Attaining Middle Income Status; Bittersweet experience to farmers

AND then it unfolds that in 2020 or so Tanzania will attain a Lower Middle Income Country status from the current Least Developed Countries (LDCs) status.

This is true because to be in that category a country needs to have a GNI per capita of 1,025 US dollars, and by virtue that Tanzania registered a GNI per capita of 1,020 US dollars in 2018, the remaining 5 US dollars may be actualized in a year or two. That has been part of World Bank report that was unveiled on Wednesday July 18, 2019.

The Bretton Wood institution went on to tell that 2018 Tanzanian economy grew at 5.2 per cent contradicting with the National Bureau of Statistics’ 7.0 per cent.

While this reflects our improved consumption and investment levels as a country and trade balance to the rest of the world as well, it threatens our accessibility to several global markets for our export products which have mostly been agri-products.

Agriculture exports have been perennial contributor to our exports – taking more than 30 per cent slot. This has been largely supported by a number of trade preference schemes set by developed countries in a bid to reduce the world’s economic disparity.

So from early 2000’s many countries like EU, US, Canada, Chian and Japan came up with non – reciprocal agreements for LDCs.

Currently, Tanzania being an LDC is a beneficiary of a number of schemes set by developed nations, namely; EU’s EBA (Everything But Arms), India’s DFTP (Duty Free Trade Preference), Japan’s GSP (Generalized System of Preference), Canada’s LDCT (Least developed Country Tariff), US’s AGOA (Africa Growth Opportunity Act), and China’s DFQF (Duty Free Quota Free).

For it to continue enjoying these benefits it must remain in the LDC status, an option that is awkward to the core. Notably, countries that offers these preferences usually removes all those who graduates to Middle Income Country status as it happened to Samoa, Kenya and Botswana, among others.

To reach that decision they take annual World Bank reports as reference, which underscores why am referring to the Bretton Woods institution figures rather than NBS’s.

Well, as stated earlier, our ascension to that new level will come with a price, arguably an exorbitant one.

From then on, in trying to access an Indian market, a chickpea farmer in Bariadi who hardly receives a government subsidy, will be treated the same way with a farmer in Saskatchewan, Canada whose national subsidy budget is a thousand times bigger than Tanzania’s.

This should remind us to do deep, honest and effective soul-searching and re-strategize on how we can ensure that our GDP that is more than 27 percent contributed by agriculture is not affected.

The following are some of the areas that we can proactively look at; Employing Economic Diplomacy For long time, our success in international markets has been dependent on our partners’ mercy.

It’s unfortunate that, we have only been paying a lip service to economic diplomacy concept in many of four international trade dealings.

The best example is the aborted bilateral agreement with India on pulses crops that was supposed to be entered in 2017, but in what could have be termed as reluctance, the slothful efforts didn’t materialNewsroom Africaize.

This is in no way trying to rebuff domestic market promotion efforts. Actually it must be our priority to consume what we produce.

Nonetheless, for a country that aims at achieving a Middle Income class status, surplus production must be an important component, and if we will produce in surplus, we shall need to assume a charm offensive posture to court countries with absorption potential of many of our products.

Reshuffle National Agriculture Input Voucher System (NAIVS) Investing in farmers by providing input subsidies, not only will ensure increased productivity but also it will bring down prices and eventually make our products competitive in the global market.

We have National Agriculture Input Voucher System (NAIVS) that has been instrumental in distributing fertilizers and seeds to small holder farmers.

NAIVS has distributed about 15 million vouchers and reached 2.5 million farmers, enabled purchase and application of 500,000 tonnes of fertilisers and 50,000 tonnes of improved seeds.

With a handful results registered so far, experience has shown that the system has been prone to corruption by government officials and serving the relatively rich farmers instead.

If there are nuggets we can employ in fixing the system, the following two shouldn’t be left out of the process; ICT and orderly inclusion of private dealers.

It is through them, Nigeria’s e-wallet model has successfully turned a once net importer to relatively self-reliant African nation. We shall have a look on this in the near future.

Now that we will soon be regarded as grown-ups, let’s do away with childish things.

• Zirack Andrew is a National Coordinator at Tanzania Pulses Network (TPN). Can be contacted through ziracck.andrew@gmail.com

ABRAHAM John (23), a second year student at ...


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