THE Father of the Nation Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere has, on several occasions, insisted on capitalizing investment on agriculture which has been the engine of the economy in Tanzania.
Agriculture is an old and necessary practice that has been carried out since man began executing civilization. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO ) records show agriculture to worth over US$2.4 Trillion to date. Cultivating crops and rearing livestock has been a sustenance practice and a business modality over space and time on the face of the earth, catering for more than 1 billion people livelihoods.
In the 20th century, agriculture began taking a new shift, as much technological innovation target at cultivating and animal keeping began surfacing. Whilst intensive attention was channeled at commercialisation and diversifying its practice into the economy, turning it into a lucrative business [agribusiness] of which China, United States of America (USA), India and Nigeria dominate in productivity.
Despite of the latter, Tanzanian youth need to capitalize intensively their ingenuity and zeal into agribusiness for vitalizing the local/national economy.
National Bureau of Statistics show that the youth make up more than 60 percent of the population. Nearly 30 percent of the national GDP is attracted from agriculture, with 66 percent of the population constituting its workforce (70 percent of it being women) according to trading economics.
Still, this sector has not yet stretched its wings as it supposed to be, with more than 44 percent of arable land across Tanzania, there is much to invest in terms of ideas, technology and resource allocation catapulted by youth.
In breathing life to that matter, Gerald Kalwizira, a young-agribusiness co-investor based in Dar es Salaam with an Economics degree, validates the narrative by exposing on his new agribusiness line which sells agriproducts [vegetables, spices and fruits] via a customize online platform for customers to access products virtually and place their order on real time.
Kalwizira goes on record insisting on how technology has levitated the business adding “For us technology has helped us to provide convenience to people, as they can order any place, whether they are in the office, home or outside the country they can place orders for someone who is physically here in Tanzania and get their groceries the next day”.
Exploring other heights of youth-experience on agribusiness, Donald Henry a youngentrepreneur within the agribusiness line based in Mbeya, shares his insights on the possibilities opening up within agriculture citing that “ By understanding the modern ways of agricultural activities, e.g. irrigation system, crop cultivation and etc, it made me take-up rice and potatoes cultivation as base crops in my business. Where by the presence of sustainable market, high demand, reliable customers, crop handling and minimal investment capital requirements were the core reasons that drove me into it.”
Fredrick Mwalongo, another agribusiness young-hero based in Njombe, has been doing agricultural activities since 2000, when he was in primary school, cultivating maize (under his parents’ supervision). In 2012 till up to date he decided to invest fully into it cultivating sweet potatoes, as his bachelor’s degree in geography and environmental studies catapulted his expertise into the business.
Mwalongo said: “The desire to make money triggered me to engage in agribusiness, and more interesting was the crop that I was cultivating which took 2 months to mature”. Tanzania Invests, showcased 1000-2000 large scale farms to be in Tanzania, also 29 Million hectares of land being suitable for irrigation.
With these forces in play, there are number of agricultural services that lack within the agribusiness line, such as eco-friendly seeds that withhold all the on-farm challenges, drought, pests and diseases, reliable-transportation systems of crops from farms to markets, storage unit systems, market research and reliable agribusiness product markets that favor farmers sweat.
Mr Z engo Saul, Agriculture and Economics experts with a 45 years experience painted another picture on less-youth interaction within agriculture adding “Clearly, it is not deeply rooted in them, compared to us (baby boomers), we did it since childhood, taught in school (theoretically and practically).
Various socio-economic and political aspects have disrupted the growth of the sector such as migration and change of taste (youth perception of life)”.
The National Agricultural Policy(2013) has shown dependence on rain-fed agriculture, low productivity, less agricultural supporting services and rural infrastructures to be challenges facing agriculture in Tanzania.
Hence, Henry highlighted on climate change, pets and crop diseases, price fluctuation and lack of government support to youth agribusiness ventures to be core challenges that he has counted to limit the expansion of the industry.
Mwalongo, came in with also another array of realistic challenges on his angle, adding “to me challenges I faced when I began and sometime facing is capital, and legitimate arable land for farming as well as seeds, because in most cases we are preparing our own in local ways”.
A silver lining emerges as the policy brings out the vast possibilities of the sector to expand. Whereby, with favorable natural resource (land and water), markets opening national, regional and international for various agri-products and dynamism on job creation within the sector are some of the promising factors that youth as a productive force ought to capitalize, with the critical assistance from economic, youth and agricultural stakeholders backed up by responsible ministries and government agencies.
With, Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB) rise, youth farmers and other youth interested in entrepreneurship ought to collaborate to levitate the present potential. In Kigoma palm oil cultivation is spreading wings, and youth could capitalize on it, as the TADB Managing Director Mr Japhet Justine assured farmers before the Prime Minister that TADB is setting grounds for seeds and inputs to be available at a affordable price.
With all stakeholders joining forces, agricultural supportive technologies will erupt and champion the diversification of the rural-economy and the national economy at large. Moreover, agricultural allied learning institutions ought to support and champion creation of service such as Kalwizira’s where digital communications (texts, call, WhatsApp messenger and website) promote agri-product deliver with fintech (mobile money services) finalizing and adding value to the service.
Thus, Mr Saul coated the latter adding” all actors ought to prepare youth from the early stages of life to view agriculture, in the eyes of Nyerere as a hallmark of economic success”
* Padili Mikomangwa is an Environmentalist and GIS Specialist based in Dar es Salaam.
Email:padilijm@ gmail.com or cell:+ 2557 63635597