Major changes in agric as Tanzania marks 62 years of independence 

TANZANIA: AGRICULTURAL production has undergone major transformation in 62 years of independence specifically from subsistence to commercial production though with less mechanization and value addition.

Rural Development Expert, Prof Samwel Kabote who doubles as Senior Lecturer at the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) said recently during a symposium organized by the varsity to commemorate 62nd anniversary of independence.

“Development of agribusiness relies on industries, however, attaining inclusive economic growth requires integration of all sectors,” he said.

Prof Kabote said the sector can grow by at least six per cent or above provided its entire production chain is mechanized, and quality seeds among other farming inputs are in place.

Prof Kabote said since independence in 1961 the government led by the late father of the nation Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere prioritized agriculture as the backbone of the economy with the intent to uproot poverty.

He said despite the strong commitment, the agricultural sector shortly after independence in 1960’s to 1980’s maintained low productivity due to among others inadequate experts and hand to mouth production, a situation which delayed farming commercialization and mechanization.

Prof Kibote said even a small section of large-scale farmers who were available, mostly engaged in production of raw material such as sisal and cotton for exports thus perpetuating underdevelopment of local agro factories.

He said in 1990’s to 2000’s with introduction of the National Development Vision (NDV) 2025 which kicked off in the latter year, the sector experienced an increase in terms of production with minimal value additions culminating to the sector to maintain 4 per cent contribution to the national income.

Prof Kibote called upon the government among other stakeholders to ensure the new development vision 2050 the value addition aspect is given priority and underlined to diversify the entire value chains.

The Permanent Secretary for Agriculture Ministry, Mr Gelard Mweli said currently the sector is a main source of food and raw material to local industries by 100 per cent and 65 per cent respectively.

To boost the sector, Mr Mweli said the six-phase government last year introduced the Building a Better Tomorrow (BBT) to address long time farmers’ setbacks relating to inadequate extension officers, mechanization, financing, land, better seeds and markets.

He said the programme attracts many youths and women who have been capacitated on strategies to successful agribusiness and modern farming in general.

Mr Mweli said the BBT’s first phase admitted over 800 youths who will conclude their training on January 15, 2024 hinting that the future plan is to admit 1000 to 2000 youths in the coming phases.

Mr Mweli said the government under President Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan targets to see the agriculture sector grow by 10 per cent come 2030.

Earlier, Blue Economy Expert, Dr Muuimin Hamad, who doubles as a lecturer at SUA noted that over five decades after independence the water economy including fishing, was not fully commercialized.

Dr Hamad said the blue economy has gained popularity in recent years pressing need for educating citizens to effective exploitation of abundant water resources including oceans and lakes.

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