Maswa District Council (DC) is one of six districts in Simiyu Region, the second poorest region in Tanzania with a population of 377,292 people (51% of whom are women). About 57% of children under five (6-59 months) and 53.7% of pregnant women aged 19-49 show symptoms of anemia.
In 2019, Maswa DC established an orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) processing plant to reduce malnutrition in the community. Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A and can help boost the immune system.
Through its Local Finance Initiative (LFI), UNCDF supported Maswa DC with a $100,000 seed capital grant to cover the cost of connecting the plant to the national power grid, purchasing capacity solar drying machines and working capital to operationalize the business.
To ensure the sustainability of the project, UNCDF has also worked with the local government to create a company, which allows for shareholding by Maswa DC and the local community.
Reliable market for smallholder farmers
Using working capital provided by UNCDF, Maswa DC purchased 23.88 tonnes of raw OFSP from local smallholder farmers. This intervention provided a reliable market and source of income for 58 local farmers (including 18 women), three primary schools, one secondary school and a farmers’ group of 12 members (including 8 women).
Thanks to the project, farmers can now sell their products to the factory, which allows them to obtain money to support their families and meet their basic needs.
Flora Nungu, mother of three children, says: “Before this project, we did not have a stable market for our products, but since the arrival of this factory, we have confidence in this market. She adds: “My children are now in boarding school and I am able to pay for their accommodation and other school needs.”
Improved food security
This has provided access to reliable, safe, affordable and reliable solar energy to power the factory with an installed capacity of processing 10 MT of raw potatoes into flour per day. The purchase of solar dryers enables the factory to hold 3 MT of sliced potatoes at a time. The solar dryer improves food safety by allowing longer storage of food after drying and reducing post-harvest losses.
The project has generated direct and indirect employment for the local Maswa community. During the construction of the solar drying stations, the factory employed 14 local people (including three women), hired 14 casual workers (including 6 women) for the processing of raw materials in the factory and two professional workers, who are both women. .
In addition, this initiative has stimulated off-farm activities and increased income through indirect employment which includes 12 people (including three women) as food vendors (mama lishe) and handlers.
Building a healthy community
About 33.3 percent of the population under five are malnourished and 5 percent are underweight. Simiyu and closer areas were affected by malnutrition and anemia. Maswa’s market segment includes children (1 year and older), people living with HIV/AIDS, pregnant and lactating women, people with diabetes, the elderly among other vulnerable groups.
One of Maswa DC’s marketing strategies is to display and sell the potato flour in health facilities (dispensaries, health centers and hospitals) in the area.
In addition, as it is a new product, the Council uses its forums to raise awareness in the community about the benefits and use of flour because it contains all the nutrients necessary for a balanced diet.
Supports local investment
Apart from its main investment, through the Maswa project, the government was able to finance different special groups (i.e. women, disabled and elderly) to open a small bakery factory that consumes the raw material Of the industry.
Improving rural community life
“Before the Maswa project, I used to do small manual labor in different farms, with the project, now I have a full-time job which gives me enough income to meet my daily needs,” shares Michael Nzwili, a factory worker.
The presence of this factory will greatly contribute to the lives of the people of the Simiyu region. As one of the few potential projects under a special purpose vehicle operated by the District Council, the Maswa OFSP plant will help the local government increase its own sources of revenue, which is essential for local development.
Distributed by APO Group for the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).