Minister for Agriculture Japhet Hasunga (pictured) told the House that the government had held numerous meetings with stakeholders to introduce the insurance cover for selected crops in the coming financial year.
Mr Hasunga said this yesterday when tabling budget estimates for his ministry for the 2019/2020 financial year during which he asked for the approval of over 253bn/- for recurrent and development expenditure.
“Many countries worldwide have established insurance covers to protect farmers against losses caused by natural disasters.
Through this cover, Tanzanian farmers will be compensated in case of losses and with it they can also access credit facilities from financial institutions,” he explained.
Mr Hasunga pointed out that financial institutions in the country had been reluctant to extend credit facilities to farmers due to challenges facing the sector of agriculture.
The minister said further that preparations were underway to introduce insurance cover for at least two crops during the 2019/2020 farming season.
However, Mr Hasunga stressed that its implementation would only be possible through timely availability of accurate weather reports and adherence to best farming practices by farmers.
“There is thus a need for close cooperation between the Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) and agricultural extension officers in the implementation of insurance cover services,” he noted.
In another development, Mr Hasunga told the House that the government was identifying, registering and providing identity cards to cash crop farmers in the country. “The exercise will be completed in June this year. In the next financial year (2019/20) the ministry will strengthen a database by registering farmers of other crops through their cooperative societies,” he said.
Deputy chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Water, Dr Christine Ishengoma, expressed concerns that the government had allocated only 15bn/- out of 67bn/- asked by the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA).
“The agency had asked for 67bn/- for the purchase of 124,000 metric tonnes of cereals for national reserve, but only 15bn/- was issued, which it used to purchase 28,000 tonnes of food crops,” she explained.
Presenting views of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Water, Dr Ishengoma expressed concerns that limited funds allocated to NFRA would likely lead to food insecurity in some parts of the country.
Presenting views of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Mr Pascal Haonga (Mbozi-Chadema) urged the government to invest more in agriculture to boost the sector’s contribution to national economy.
Data shows that the agricultural sector contributes 25.3 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 30 per cent of exports and 65 per cent of raw materials for local industrial production.
Mr Haonga also urged the government to increase financial allocation to the National Irrigation Commission (NIC) to support irrigation schemes in the country.
During the 2018/19 financial year, NIC was allocated 25.82bn/-, but only 5.27bn/- had been issued as of February, this year.