This article is part of a series written to highlight some of the success stories from FCM’s Municipal Partners for Economic Development (MPED) program.

Through FCM’s MPED program, the Municipality of Morogoro, Tanzania, formed a grain milling cluster (cooperative) to help provide sustainable sources of grain to the community. By working together, the millers strengthened their voice as a professional group, increased their economic potential, and improved the nutritional quality of the grain they provide to Morogoro residents.

Chronic malnutrition is endemic in Tanzania. This has a serious effect on the country’s children: 42 per cent of children under the age of five suffer from stunted growth; 60 per cent are anaemic; and 41 per cent have no access to sufficiently nutritious food. In Morogoro, grain — mainly maize, sorghum and cassava — is the primary food staple for more than 80 per cent of the community. Millers, therefore, have a significant role to play in providing nutrition for the more than 300,000 people living in the area. 

Prior to the formation of the cluster, the majority of the milling machinery in the municipality belonged to individual small businesses (95 per cent of which owned by men). Operating in isolation meant the millers had no strong professional voice; entrepreneurial skills and partnerships were almost non-existent, and most of the millers had no — or very limited — access to proper financial or technical services. 

By setting up the milling cluster (called Kongano La Usagishaji Nafaka Morogoro or “Kunamo”), the grain millers aimed to build their economic relationship with producers in Morogoro and the surrounding area. 

“Kunamo gave the millers a stronger voice,” says Mwadhini Myanza, executive director of Morogoro’s Irrigation Training and Economic Empowerment Organization, and facilitator for Kunamo. “It has also become an economic driver for the council, and led to an increase in the standard of living for the millers, as well as in terms of the quality of the grain produced for the community.”

Through MPED, business training was provided to an initial small group of millers. A needs assessment and an economic assessment were undertaken to set benchmarks for how the cluster would operate. The vision, mission and objectives of the cluster were agreed upon by all members. Monthly meetings helped build knowledge and strategy among partners, which in turn led to the understanding and implementation of the triple helix concept (academia, industry and government) and public-private partnerships for the cluster.

The cluster formed close professional links with experts and institutions working on similar activities, including the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) and Tuboreshe Chakula (Tubocha), as well as suppliers and traders to complete the grain business chain. Tubocha provided support for study visits to other Tanzanian businesses, which provided opportunities to learn how to enrich the grain produced in Morogoro and ensure the sustainability of the cluster.

“The cluster links the four main levels of the grain value chain: the producers, the processors, marketing and policy makers,” says Myanza, adding that collaboration between these levels has resulted in significant change. “More than 500 millers and grain producers in the municipality and surrounding districts are interested in joining our cluster,” he says.

The level of cooperation between the individual millers is now high, and joint management skill workshops and seminars have been organized on themes of common interest such as packaging and grading. This helps build a sustainable flow of skills within the cluster.

“The members of the cluster are motivated and recognize the skills they have gained,” says Myanza. “We are organizing a long-term business plan workshop for early 2015 to develop a demand-driven long-term business plan. This will help ensure sustainability,” he adds. 

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