FORMER Prime Minister (PS) Mizengo Pinda has urged financial institutions, especially banks, to review their lending interest policy and adopt reasonable rates to help the youth access loans and improve their agricultural activities.
Speaking at the launch of a two-day agricultural forum organised by the Agriculture Non-State Actors Forum (ANSAF), Mr Pinda said the financial institutions had adopted higher rates that discouraged young people from improving their farming methods.
“This can be the main reason why most young people are discouraged to invest in agriculture,” he said.
“It’s high time banking institutions revisited their borrowing rates to attract more young people.”
He believed that access to friendly loans would help individuals employ themselves in farming, animal husbandry or fishing.
He said the funds would further help the youth engage in horticulture which was growing at a relatively high speed in the country.
Figures indicate that agriculture employee 65 per cent of the total population with the service sector adding 28 per cent. The Industrial sector employees 7 per cent.
“We should not blame the youth for abandoning agriculture,” he said, noting that the recent harmonisation of curricula to produce competence-based graduate would help increase the number of the youth employed in the agricultural sector.
“A new approach towards education in Tanzania will help the sector,” he suggested.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Gerald Kusaya said the ministry had been working hard to improve soil fertility to encourage smallholder farmers to increase yields and incomes.
He noted that the ministry through TARI-Selian targeted to collect 100,000 soil samples from 3,956 wards across the country. Already 30,400 samples from 18 regions across the country had been collected.
“This will help generate a soil map and it can be used in determining the type of fertilisers needed,” he said.
The PS was optimistic that the new map would attract the youth to invest in farming.
Mr Kusaya explained that the government was committed to training more young people in soil analysis so as they could farm commercially, increase their incomes and help ensure food security.