THE government has launched a database for tea stakeholders that will help to identify farmers and get important information relating to their activity so as to improve production of the cash crop in the country.
The database will also help to know the size of their farms and the distance from their farms to the factory as well as knowing what they produce.
Speaking in Dodoma on Sunday during the commemoration of International Tea Day, the Minister for Agriculture, Hussein Bashe, said the database would improve tea production because farmers will have access to various information such as better farming methods and appropriate data on tea harvests.
“Through this database we will be able to identify all farmers and the areas they operate, but we will also be able to provide them with useful information concerning tea production, markets and subsidy as part of efforts to transform the sub-sector,” he said.
The minister further detailed that the system would help the government to allocate and distribute subsized agricultural input to right farmers.
“Through this system, all farmers will be provided with smartcards which will have important information about them thus making it easier to get the subsidized inputs,” Bashe said.
Mr Bashe also said that the government is expecting to open a tea auction in Dar es Salaam where all Tanzanian tea will be sold there to help farmers find markets for the cash crop and reduce the cost of transporting the produce abroad.
“We will open and start functioning in this tea auction in Dar es Salaam in June this year. No tea will be allowed be sold abroad, local blenders will buy tea in Dar es Salaam auction and those with direct market will be required to register and get the permits,” he said.
He added that in order to ensure growth and revolution in tea production, the government has already built 102 irrigation offices in all councils in the country and it expects to build houses for extension officers in all areas so as to move the services to the people.
“The biggest problem in the tea sector is lack of extension services. Extension officers available are living far away from farmers. We have given them motorbikes but the GPRS shows that 90 percent of them live in urban areas far away from the farmers’,” he said
The minister further said that, his docket expects to start recruiting youth from Sokoine University of Agricultural and allocate them to work with farmers to reduce the challenge of the lack of extension services.
On her part, the Director of the National Tea Board, Marry Kipeja, said that the board is implementing various strategies to ensure that there are positive changes in the tea production.
She mentioned some of these strategies as increasing production by encouraging the revival of farms, encouraging the establishment of industries, strengthening the provision of extension services as well as improving road infrastructure in tea producing areas.