THE government has called for unified efforts among stakeholders to forge a common goal of utilising the local market as an economic stimulus for increased value addition on agricultural crops.
“This in principle will widen trade, increase jobs, expand specialisation, reduce environmental degradation, increase incomes and investment, save time and foster shelf-life of products,” said Ms Dorotha Mwaluko, the Permanent Secretary (Policy, Coordination and Investment) in the Prime Minister’s Office in her speech when opening the 7th National Reference Group Meeting (NRG7) in Dar es Salaam.
She said it was important to note that the growth of middle class, increasing urbanisation and developing food service sector drive agro-processing and sophistication of the value chains. With this fact, investment in supermarkets is gaining momentum especially in big cities like Dar es Salaam, Mwanza and Arusha.
The permanent secretary further stated that since the country aspires for industrialisation and mid income country come 2025, the issue of commercialisation of agriculture, improve smallholder farmer incomes and embarking on investment in agro-processing industries was crucial.
The NRG7 yesterday meant to look at achievements, challenges and lessons learnt during the implementation of ‘Promoting Agriculture, Climate and Trade Linkages in the East African Community (EAC) phase II (PACT EAC2).
The project, which ends late this year, insists on exploring ways to ensure relevant regional policies in the regional bloc to contribute to climate-aware, trade-driven and food security-enhancing agro-processing.
Executive Director of the Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF), Dr Tausi Kida, remarked that the EAC 2 project undertook a national advocacy campaign in 2017 and last year.
It aimed at influencing the government to review the National Sustainable Industrial Development Policy (SIDP 1996-2020) for it to include adequate strategies that promote climate aware, trade driven and food security- enhancing agro-processing.
The 7th NRG meeting was therefore sought to provide a platform for the members of the Reference Group to reflect on ways to achieve more sustainable agro-processing value chains in the region.
Dr Kida argued that as the project enters its final year, the members were expected to consider the potential contribution of the upcoming regional Private Sector Development Strategy (PSDS), international trade and climate negotiations as well as relevant crosscutting issues such as technology and gender.