TANZANIA Agricultural Development Bank (TADB) has been tasked to provide credit facilities to support establishment of irrigation schemes, a move which is expected to empower farmers to embark on commercial agriculture instead of subsistence farming.
Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Mr Omary Mgumba, issued the directives in the National Assembly yesterday, during the question-and-answer session, while responding to a question posed by Korogwe Rural MP, Mr Timotheo Mnzava (CCM).
Mr Mgumba directed the agricultural bank to channel the credit facilities through the local government authorities to enable farmers to establish irrigation schemes, which would ensure cultivation of food and cash crops throughout the year.
“Tanzania has a total of 29 million hectares of land which is suitable for irrigation farming, but only 475,000 hectares are being utilized. TADB should thus support farmers to boost their productivity in agriculture,” he remarked. In another development, the Deputy Minister expressed concerns on the other hand that billions of funds meant for irrigation farming projects in some parts of the country were misused by some dishonest officials of the National Irrigation Commission (NIC).
Posing a question earlier, the Korogwe Rural MP tasked the government to set up an irrigation schemes along the Mkomazi Valley, pointing out that residents in Mombo division were highly in need of such initiatives to boost productivity. In response, Mr Mgumba said the government had way back in 1980 through the Germany Agency for Technical Cooperation Limited conducted feasibility studies to develop irrigation farming along Mkomazi Valley.
“Results of the study found out that the construction of the irrigation dam along the valley would result into increased water levels in neighbouring Lake Manga and eventually lead to flooding of Manga and Mikocheni villages,” he explained.
However, the Deputy Minister noted that review of the 1980 feasibility study and fresh studies conducted by irrigation experts from Kilimanjaro Region in 2014/2015 established that construction of the irrigation dam along the valley is feasible at a cost of 1.543bn/-.