THE government has shelved Nane Nane Agricultural Exhibition and all its related activities for this year and ordered all budgets allocated for the annual event to be used on improving extension services all over the country.
Speaking in Dodoma on Wednesday, the Minister for Agriculture Prof Adolph Mkenda said the main reason for cancellation of the popular annual exhibition, is to evaluate the contribution of the exhibition since its inception.
“There are people who have already started using the money to go to various preparatory sessions for the exhibition. Please stop immediately, no one should take an allowance (per diem) anywhere to go to Morogoro or Tabora to prepare for the Nane Nane,” he ordered
Prof Mkenda said the Nane Nane exhibition and its activities remain important to the development of the agricultural sector, but evaluation of its existence is needed to improve the sector.
He said his ministry will create a special task force that will evaluate the best way to improve the exhibition, so that it will be productive for many years to come, adding that the ministry has already started communicating with other ministries about the changes.
“Nane Nane activities should not end with just announcing the best farmer or the best crop; we need to see those exhibitions benefit the people at the grassroots level,” he said.
Prof Mkenda said one among the measures that are being taken to improve extension services in the country, is to ensure that all agricultural extension officers conduct field classrooms in their respective work areas to equip farmers with essential farming skills.
The minister said the latest decision was part of the ministry's implementation of the advice from extension officers.
“We cannot solve all their challenges at once but this is one step toward a better world for them, to ensure we create a good environment for these officers to support farmers in their areas,” he explained.
He also called on all ministries and stakeholders who have allocated budgets for the exhibition to look at how best to use the funds to improve extension services in their areas of jurisdiction.
Moreover, the minister said that the government is continuing to work on the development of agricultural strategic products to find the best way for its development to bring about reforms in the agriculture sector.
Citing the development of the tobacco crop in the country, Prof Mkenda said that despite the crop having brought a lot of money to the nation, there have been many challenges that undermine its production. He noted that his ministry has started to address the challenges and turn them to opportunities.
“In tobacco farming, there are big surprises, tobacco buyers do not want farmers to grow more than beyond their plan, if you cultivate more they lower the price,” he tipped.
The minister, meanwhile, said that the ministry has started solving long-standing challenges
affecting sugarcane cultivation in the country.
Prof Mkenda said the sugar crisis in the country is not due to the shortage of sugarcanes but is brought about by the monopoly of companies that have been given the responsibility to run the business and collect sugarcane from farmers.
“Sugarcane growers are struggling to sell their products, companies do not buy all the sugarcanes but the country does not have enough sugar. Manufacturers do not want to increase production and surprisingly, they were still given permits to import sugar,” revealed Prof Mkenda.
The minister said after the end of the ongoing Parliamentary sessions, he will visit Morogoro Region to ensure that all sugar factories work to increase production.
Regarding the wheat crop, the ministry announced last month that the government will withdraw ownership of land for all farmers, who have been given land by the government but have failed to cultivate the crop.
Prof Mkenda said he had received feedback from wheat farmers about the decision reached by the ministry to address the price challenge of the wheat-crop last month and they have promised to grasp the opportunity as they have received price assurance from buyers of the crop including Azania and Azam Bakhresa.
“If you look closely at all these scenarios I have mentioned it demands improving extension services to our farmers. And that is the basis for the decision to cancel all Nane Nane activities this year,” stressed Prof Mkenda.
Nane Nane Day on August 8 is celebrated to recognize the important contribution of farmers to the national Tanzanian economy.
During the weeklong exhibition, farmers and other agricultural stakeholders showcase new technologies, ideas, discoveries and alternative solutions concerning the agricultural sector.