How govt plans to attain 10pc agric growth

THE government has unveiled its grand plans towards successful attainment of its ambitious strategy to make agriculture sector grow by 10 per cent come 2030.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the current growth of the sector stands at 3.6 per cent.

The plans include increase in agriculture budget to a whopping 954bn/- in 2022/2023 financial year up from 294bn/- allocated in the previous year.

The funds have been directed towards irrigation, research, seed production, improvement of extension services among others.

Deputy Minister for Agriculture Anthony Mavunde said on Friday that of the 954bn/-   a sum of 361bn/- has been channeled to irrigation.

He was speaking during the launch of subsidised fertiliser distribution by Tanzania Fertiliser Company (TFC).

“The money will be used for construction of new irrigation schemes, renovation of old ones, including coming up with other big projects such as increasing irrigation land,” Mavunde said.

He said currently  the government has embarked on construction of  14 irrigation dams which will have capacity to store 131,535 cubic metres  of water equivalent to 131 billion litres which will be used to irrigate 91, 754  hectors.

“We have contracted consultants to review all largest water basins in the country so as to set up irrigation schemes with the aim of increasing irrigation land,” Mr Mavunde said.

He said that it will be difficult to attain 10 per cent agriculture growth come 2030 if irrigation farming is not given priority.

“We are currently finalising feasibility study and detailed design of all 23 water basins so that we can carry out irrigation farming in them,” he said.

He said they have started with several water basins including Lake Victoria,  Malagarasi,  Manonga, Wembere,  Ngono River, Ruvuma,  Songwe, Ifakara, Kilombero, Mkomazi, Pangani,  Rufiji, Wami and others.

“We are going to set up large scale irrigation projects in these basins, which upon completion, will increase irrigated land by 355,000,”  Mavunde noted.

The deputy minister further said that the government intention cannot be attained if the country does not produce better seeds and have sufficient stocks.

He noted that currently the government in collaboration with private sector is proceeding with seeds production.

Mavunde noted that   the government has also empowered  the Agricultural Seed Agency (ASA) so that it can support in seed production  by increasing its budget from 10bn/-  to 43bn/-.

“The funds will be used for opening new seed farms and fix irrigation infrastructure so that the agency does not rely on rain for seeds production,” he said.

He noted that modern irrigation infrastructure will be availed at Morogoro seed farms so that the agency can produce seeds throughout the year. We are currently constructing an irrigation dam with 45,000 cubic metres capacity.”

He noted that the increased funds will also be used for fencing all seed farms to ovoid interaction with animals and people.

On research, he said the budget has been increased from 11.6bn/- in 2021/2022 financial year to 40bn/- this financial year which aims at ensuring that farmers do not cultivate blindly.

“The government has already tested the quality of the soil and we have a map showing the health of soil in all our seven ecological zones which will help to determine which kind of fertiliser should be used in a certain type of soil,” he said.

He added that the ministry has purchased 143 agro care scanners which will be distributed to extension officers so that they can make instant soil testing and print a certificate to framers which will guide them on the types of crops to be planted in their respective areas.

Mavunde explained that currently the country has 7,604 extension officers while the actual demand is 20,000 noting that the government is working on the challenge.

In addressing the challenge of reaching the farmers the government has purchased 7,000 motorcycles and 3,000 extension kits which will be provided to extension officers to further improve the services.

He said the motorcycle will be fixed with a special device     to make sure that extension officers work within their areas and be tracked whenever they go.

He said the government is also coming up with a big project of increasing block farms from the current 100 to 10,000 come 2030.

He said in addressing the challenge of accessing land by youths, the government is coming up with a project which will enable the group to access land in order to promote their engagement in agriculture.

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