FORMER LEADERS’ BENCH WITH DAILY NEWS: Efforts to uplift youths timely

  • Mongella hails govt for coming up with BBT
  • Calls for engagement of more women in the project
  • Insists for a conducive environment for youths to blend in

“EFFORTS by the government to uplift youths through agriculture are rather timely and outstanding.

However, close supervision from relevant actors is needed to arrive at the intended goals,” said veteran politician Gertrude Mongella.

The diplomat-cum-gender activist revealed this when the ‘Daily News’ sought an audience with her at her Makongo Juu residence, recently to get details of her unmatched leadership experience, untold stories, what she sees and what she would love to see attained by the country.

Mama Mongella who in the past served in the various government capacities as minister and diplomat was keen to note that the country’s brain child ‘Building a Better Tomorrow (BBT)’ programme, which is being implemented under President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s sixth phase administration paints a bright future for the youth in agriculture.

While it is true that the youth is the critical engine behind any country’s development endeavour, the government is well aware that the future of agriculture will not be realistic without youths’ active participation, since the group commands 44.5 per cent of the country’s 61.7 million people as per the 2022 Population and Housing Census.

Despite the fact that agriculture employs a large number of people and accounts for a large share of GDP and foreign Exchange earnings for Tanzania and other parts of the continent, it has not reached its potential.

Tanzania expects its agriculture sector to grow at an annual rate of 10 per cent by 2030 compared to the current growth of around 3.6 per cent as part of the country’s ambitious agriculture transformation vision. In the same vein, the Ministry of Agriculture is planning to create 3,000,000 jobs by 2030 through various strategies.

In reaching the goal, the country was embarking on the ambitious Building a Better Tomorrow (BBT)’ programme for the sector’s transformation vision taking into account its rich population dividend of youths, who are mostly unemployed.

Through the programme, the country was fully committed to make the first ever history of creating billionaires from the agriculture sector. In the course of implementation, youths were being trained for four months, after which they go for a practical training in allocated farms before they are given ten hectares of land each and subleasing title deeds for 66 years.

Besides, to make proper use of the land, the ministry has equally established a window for grant facilities and soft loans, which will help them to realise their dream.

During the programme’s launch in March this year, President Samia revealed that about 20,000 unemployed youths had applied to be incorporated in the programme and that already others were in the farms. The project is being implemented in four regions of Dodoma, Mbeya, Kagera and Kigoma during Phase I whereas about 812 young men and women are expected to benefit from the programme.

Aside from the rolled-out initiatives, the government has in the financial year 2023/2024 set aside a budget of 970,785,619,000/-, which is an increase of 29.24 per cent compared to 751,123,280,000/- that was approved by the Parliament for the 2022/2023. Out of 970,785,619,000/-, a sum of 767,835,139,000/- is for the development projects, while 112,019,631,000/- is for recurrent budget.

The national agriculture budget share of previous years and this current year clearly show President Samia’s true intention to spur the country’s development goal by revolutionising the agriculture sector.

Statistics indicate that the share of the national agriculture budget in 2016/7 was only 5.3 per cent. In 2017/18 it was 3.3 per cent and 2018/19 was 1.9 per cent. In 2019/20 it was 1.6 per cent and 2020/21 was even less to 1.3 per cent. Thus, compared to this year’s budget allocation contained in the Minister of Agriculture Hussein Bashe’s plan is a big step but for execution, good governance is required.

According to Mama Mongella during their time, the country had implemented ‘Ujamaa Villages’ villagisation policy, which did not sail through very well due to low engagement.

Youth taking part in the programme come from varying backgrounds, therefore, running them through the requirements and procedures are critical for them to have a clear focus in arriving at the set goal.

“For most of the youth ten acres is a lot, some of them don’t even know what it looks like…what we want is for the youth to refine themselves in all critical principles of agriculture,” states the veteran politician.

She added: “We don’t want to hear that some of the beneficiaries retracted or even sell the acres of land for lacking the clear vision.”

She suggested that the government must ensure that the environment is friendly to give room for the beneficiaries to be able to easily blend in and stay there.

Mama Mongella referred to a conducive environment which will accommodate the beneficiaries to start their own families and among other important amenities and services.

The gender activist also advocated for the engagement of more women in the project, noting that women were a critical drivers in the socio-economic development of the country.

According to her, the government should take into proper account of the above to avoid similar outcomes as those from the ‘Ujamaa Villages’ despite the fact that many things were achieved in the course of implementation.

Mama Mongella urged the youth to take their rightful places as the true engines and drivers of any country’s development, citing her own case, where all the achievements were determined on how she had lived her life as a youth.

She cautioned against discriminating against the youth, pointing out that the society had looked down on the youth giving an example of when a youth wants to rent a house, the landlord will ask them questions like if they are married and many other things.

Some youths had been uncomfortable and reluctant with the situation, while during her time she considered that everything should be done during this period, because it’s the time the body and mind could master a lot of things at the same time.

“When I was leading the Beijing Conference, I had only touched 50 years; I was a youth…for me being a youth is not an impediment factor. As a youth, I saw many opportunities and I did embrace them,” said Mama Mongella, calling upon the society to redirect their perception of the youth.

“Elders look down on them instead of embracing them and give them support to move forward, while some of the youth on the other hand do not want to learn.

“I on the other hand usually allow youths the opportunity to peruse my CV and tend to ask how this grandmother managed but it should be remembered at the time I was doing all this I was not that aged person,” she said.

Youths should not give themselves the privilege to be left behind, instead they need to have a vision and have the right mind and attitude to reach the set goals.

Such had helped her a lot as a youth because not once in the youthful days she gave chance to failure.

Commenting on women empowerment and gender equality, Mama Mongella noted that President Samia was a clear definition of what she had started in Beijing in the year 1995, calling upon fellow women to support her.

“While it’s true that a woman has secured the Presidency of the country…it’s for us to continue showing the world that women can, instead of leaving the task to her only.

“Now is the time…during President Samia’s era we should ask ourselves as fellow women on the roles that we can play to support her to reach her goals,” she said.

The veteran politician noted that the time has come for people to refrain from thinking that the government must do all, pointing out that the Founding Father of the Nation Mwalimu Julius Nyerere cautioned against people depending on the government to do everything for them.

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