COOPERATIVE societies bagged a total of 1.66tri/- during the previous fiscal year after selling various crops, Agriculture Deputy Minister Anthony Mavunde, has said.
He said the value was obtained from crops weighing a total of 588,020,627.7 kilograms of cotton, cashew nut, sisal, cocoa, sesame, soybean, coffee, tobacco and tea.
Mr Mavunde made the statement when officiating the Regional Farmers Forum (RFAFO) where he also commended the stakeholders’ efforts in boosting performance of the agriculture sector in the region.
The deputy minister also reiterated the government’s commitment to empower cooperative unions for greater gains to individuals and nationals at large from the agriculture sector that has employed over 75 per cent of the national population.
“As a backbone of our country’s economy, Tanzania’s agriculture sector which contributes nearly one-third of the country’s GDP, the sector has the potential to increase incomes and improve livelihoods,” he said.
According to him, in an effort to increase the value of crops, the government has also embarked on establishing industries for processing crops and producing various products with the aim of adding value.
“A total of 78 small and medium industries have been established and revived for being used to process rice, cotton, maize, sunflower and household products,” he said.
Furthermore, he said, the government dovetails all the potentials through implementation of the Agriculture Sector Development Programme Phase II (ASDP) which aims at transforming the sector towards sustainable use of land and water resources.
The programme also targeted higher productivity, commercialization level for smallholder farmer’s income, improved livelihood, food security and nutrition.
“The overall strategy of ASDP II is to transform subsistence smallholders into sustainable commercial farmers by enhancing and activating sector drivers and supporting smallholder’s farmers to increase productivity of target commodities within sustainable production systems,” he noted.
For her part, Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF) Regional President Elizabeth Nsimadala stressed on the need for ratification of the East African Cooperative Societies bill of 2015, for the sake of improving regional integration in the agriculture sector.
She said the bill, once signed, will also help to improve inter regional trade through African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), as a result of playing a vital role in curbing poverty among farmers.
“We call upon the government of Tanzania to sign this bill since it is crucial for the development of the agriculture sector that employs the majority of the population in our countries,” she said.
Speaking during the event, the regional director of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Sarah Mbago said the greater access to finance among other important drivers will definitely be a key enabler in reversing some of these bottlenecks.
“IFADs role among other likeminded development partners hence becomes critical in this space in providing the much-needed affordable finance,” she said.