More agri reforms in offing

VICE-President Dr Philip Mpango has reiterated the government’s commitment to develop further the agricultural, fisheries and livestock sectors to increase production, productivity and value of products in the country.

Besides, the initiatives are anticipated to boost incomes of people as well as generate employment opportunities for the many youths considering the fact that agriculture sector is the backbone of the economy.

Dr Mpango disclosed this on Tuesday while officiating the annual Nanenane Agricultural Exhibition taking place nationally in Mbeya Region.

Elaborating, the VP said that was the reason the government has increased its budget for the agriculture ministry from 294bn/- (2021/2022) to 970.7bn/- (2023/2024)-a record increase by 330 per cent since independence.

As for livestock and fisheries, he said their budget rose from 275bn/- (2021/2022) to 295bn/- (2023/2024) with the aim of strengthening the sectors.

The VP noted that the country has recorded a staggering increase in sales of crops, which have helped to strengthen foreign direct investments (FDIs) in the economy of the country.

“The value of our maize increased from 57,970,279 million US dollars (2021) to 71,543,641 million US dollars (2022), where sesame in particular accounted for 123,627 million US dollars (2021) to 143,788,838 million US dollars in 2022.

He urged farmers in the country to increase production of food crops to ensure Tanzania is well food secured and increase FDIs earnings resulting from production of various crops.

In scaling up fertiliser use, the government is encouraging usage of subsidised fertilisers through the national fertiliser scheme to increase production and productivity.

Through the scheme, fertiliser use for the financial year 2022/2023 reached 580,628 tonnes as compared to 363,599 tonnes (2021/2022).

The VP further said that government will continue to facilitate availability of fertilisers in the country through subsides in the financial year 2023/2024.

In recognising the role of the youth and importance of employment creation, the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries established the Building a Better Tomorrow (BBT) initiative where some 13 incubation centres were introduced to support 812 youths comprising of 282 females and 530 males, who have begun commercial farming training.

As for the livestock sector, he said a total of eight incubation centres accommodating 238 youths (71 females and 167 males) were continuing with livestock fattening trainings.

“The goal of starting the centres is to build the capacity of youth in starting commercial farming and deal with challenges relating to availability of quality livestock products, raw material for industries as well as increase of employment opportunities,” noted the VP.

For there is big demand of youth to enter into the programme, the VP urged the responsible ministries to begin preparations of enrolling more young people into the programme, calling upon the youths to take advantage of the opportunity.

Hence, he directed the two ministries to collaborate with the Ministry of Defence to see the possibility of adopting youths who are volunteering in the National Service (JKT) to take part in the programme.

equally, he emphasised on the need for extension officers to extend their services to the people, expressing government commitment to support the course.

Besides, the VP noted among measures including strengthening irrigation infrastructure by constructing dams for harvesting water with a goal of reaching 1.2 million hectares by 2025, indicating that 60.6 per cent accounting for 727,280.6 hectares of irrigation schemes.

Recognising the importance of Agricultural Marketing Cooperative Society (AMCOS) in strengthening agricultural and livestock activities, the government encourages farmers and headers to join the societies as a source of credit in the development of their activities.

In addition, he called upon financial institutions to come with products which enable many people to access loans in growing their capitals, stressing that the institutions should continue with the reduction of interest rates for farmers to acquire loans.

Likewise, he directed Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank Limited (TADB) to increase their scope of dishing out loans to farmers and headers in the country.

“A habit is coming up of invading land for carrying out research and in some areas; they have decided to distribute them as plots, something which is risking research on livestock and farming.

“Agriculture is science and must involve research prior to that the envisioned agricultural revolution in the country will remain as a long dream,” the VP noted.

Similarly the, the VP cautioned against selling all harvested food, instead farmers should ensure their households and country has enough food.

In a related development, he directed Minister for Agriculture Mr Hussein Bashe and the Minister for Finance Dr Mwigulu Nchemba to collaborate in fast-tracking the issue of establishing the Agricultural Development something which may reduce loan interest rates in facilitating the sector.

In response, Mr Bashe noted that soon the nation will construct over 100 dams to support irrigation farming in the country.

“As we speak Lake Victoria, Tanganyika, Lower Ruvuma, Lower Rufiji Basins contractors are conducting a feasibility study and detailed design for the purpose of using the waters in the areas as an opportunity.

“Their 67,500 wells which are being constructed along with providing farmers with  irrigation kits of 2.5 acres, a 5000 litre tanks and a solar panel, whereby President Samia will launch the scheme next week on Tuesday,” he said.

Such will facilitate a farmer to reliably carry out agriculture activities throughout the year without having to worry where they can secure water.

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