MEMBERS of Parliament have urged the government to invest in production of quality oil seeds and encourage establishment of edible oil processing factories as part of efforts to curb shortage of the product in the country.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the country’s annual demand for edible oil stands at 570,000 tonnes while domestic production is estimated at 365,000 tonnes.
The deficit in production has forced the government to spend 474bn/- per year to import edible oil.
Contributing on the third National Development Plan (2021/22 - 2025/26) in the House yesterday, Ngara MP George Ndaisaba said the major reason behind insufficient edible oil production in the country is lack of quality seeds.
He said that the oil seeds which are cultivated by farmers are of poor quality, and as a result they do not produce enough quality oil.
The lawmaker cited sunflower seeds currently being used by farmers, saying they are being produced through open pollinated verities technology.
“This means that they produce medium grade seeds with low extraction rate that cannot meet the country’s demand,” he said.
The MP said research institutions in the country should embark on production of high breed oil seeds which have high extraction rate.
He further called upon the government to protect local factories, especially those owned by small scale edible oil processors and empower its agricultural seeds centres so that they can produce better oil seeds which are affordable to farmers.
Mr Ndaisaba further added that currently1kilogramme of sunflower seeds is sold at 35,000/-, which cannot be afforded by majority of farmers.
“If the government will agree to invest in production of better seeds which are affordable to farmers, majority of them will engage in cultivation of the oil seeds and thus boost production,” he said.
Moreover, MP for Kalambo Josaphat Kandege (CCM) said that the current shortage of edible oil should be a wakeup call to the country.
“The country has been spending a lot of money in importing edible oil, and sometime we are not sure of its quality… it is high time the government takes measures that will guarantee sufficient production of edible oil,” he said.
He said wananchi should now be encouraged to set up edible oil processing factories and ensure there is availability of better seeds in markets to boost production.
Mr Kandege noted that as the government did to encourage households to grow food crops, it should also do the same in production of oil seed varieties so that the country could have sufficient production of edible oil.
Singinda-West MP, Elibariki Kingu (CCM) said that the government should invest intensively in modern irrigation schemes to lure more Tanzanians to engage in farming.
He said the government should also offer incentives to sunflower farmers to encourage them to increase production.
Mr Kingu said the government needs to invest more in sunflower because most farmers were yet to realise the potential of the crop because they lack quality seeds.
In his views, nominated MP Humphrey Polepole called upon the government and the public at large to invest in commercial agriculture.
Mr Polepole pointed out that it is crucial for the country to invest in agri-business as it implements the industrialisation agenda.
“The government has to make efforts and invest in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to enable farmers and traders to have access to all market information and be able to sell their produce,” he said.
However, Vunjo MP Dr Charles Kimei said for the country to realise inclusive growth and enable the private sector to create 8 million employment opportunities, it should make sure that people have access to loans so that they could invest in various businesses.
Dr Kimei recommended for the formation of a national credit guarantee scheme to enable majority wananchi to access loans for running various businesses that will in turn provide employment.