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Youths must be organised,  funded to propel national  growth and social harmony

Youths must be organised, funded to propel national growth and social harmony

THERE are three facts that cannot be wished away when you talk about Tanzania’s future. The first fact is that, annually, you will see millions of Tanzanians either tilling land, planting and harvesting crops or rearing animals or fishing. These sectors are strategic for what they are.

These three sectors employ or support these millions to earn a living. They feed the nation and also earn Tanzania foreign currency.

Therefore, these sectors need and deserve support from state-owned Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB), other commercial banks and financial institutions. The second fact is that Tanzania has a very young population.

Daniel Semberya last week quoted published figures indicating that in 2050 Tanzania’s population will be one of the world’s ten youngest populations.

Furthermore, with an annual population growth rate slightly over three per cent (in 2007), the population is expected to double in (the coming) 23 years.

In 2050 if Tanzania will have become an industrial nation proper, majority of its young people will be working in industries, offices and lesser people will be working in the three sectors generating raw materials for local industries and feeding the nation.

Semberya was reporting on the recent Policy Forums Breakfast Debate held in Dar es Salaam. What was said during that gathering is relevant to the government functionaries, banks and financial institutions and other non-state actors in their day to day work.

The third fact is that it is unwise to neglect the youth, using real and perceived reasons. The youth in Tanzania remains the engine of growth. But there is another pertinent truth. Worldwide, neglecting or mishandling the youth usually results in social discord or national instability.

That meeting, too, focused on the youth and their obvious role in developing Tanzania’s agriculture and assuring the nation of food security. Fortunately there were very welcome divergent views. Divergent views are good because they provide food for thought.

During that meeting Member of Parliament Humphrey Polepole, underscored the importance of paying great attention to the youth and their implication, as a social group, to the future of the nation.

He argued that leaders and the led should develop a new thinking that reflects the realities of today. For example, Mr Polepole touched on the issue of collateral.

Collateral is raised by youths and women wherever people in authority go. Raising the issue is no offence at all. But Mr Polepole argued that the government has shifted from harping on collateral to providing some kind of guarantee to poor and eligible applicants.

He called on the youth to get organised and leaders to organise young people so that they can benefit from soft loans offered by the government through district councils. Professor Adolf Mascarenha argued along those lines. He told that gathering that Tanzania has many opportunities for young people, but underscore that these innocents need to be organised.

Werner Hillary, a representative of Tanzania Youth Coalition called on young people to take advantage of opportunities in the agriculture sector because, she maintained, besides tilling land, the sector provides agri-businesses of many types, including food processing. She argued that agriculture is highly dependent on land, but said it is incredibly politicized.

She said for that reason agriculture or farming is unattractive to especially young people, without political connections or financial capital. In her paper entitled ‘Food Security in Tanzania: Investing in Youth for Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems’, she contended that food system stability can only be assured by food availability, access and use.

She said if young people will be organised well, among other things, critical ecosystems will be protected and food loss will be reduced. Dickson Alex was a discussant representing youth entrepreneurs.

He gave a beautiful evidence on opportunities offered by agriculture, livestock and fisheries sectors to graduates of tertiary institutions.

He said that upon graduating from the Sokoine University of Agriculture he chose to make a living in the agriculture sector. He told the gathering that he has realized that, there are opportunities in agriculture, fisheries and livestock, if are well utilised.

The arguments in the foregoing paragraphs serve to show the importance of the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB), commercial banks and other financial institutions at this stage of Tanzania’s development to be concerned with smallholder producers. It also serves to show the importance of organizing and supporting young people, to use opportunities availed by agriculture, livestock and fisheries sectors.

Things that make farming, keeping animals or fishing unattractive, to use Werners words, should be identified by lenders. Those unattractive things can be dealt with by lenders working together with, for example, youth organizations, district government functionaries, cooperatives, owners of micro- and small and medium enterprises, experienced associations and institutions like the Tanzania Horticultural Association and the Financial Sector Deepening Trust.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan told the Parliament that the government will increase funding to the TADB because the government is happy with what the bank has been doing in the past few years.

However the government wants to see TADB workers doing their best in serving Tanzanians in agriculture, livestock and fisheries sectors. TADB was created to increase flow of credit to smallholders in the three sectors.

When the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries (responsible for fisheries), Dr Rashid Tamatama visited the TADB headquarters in Dar es Salaam recently, he said that the fisheries sector has many opportunities that remain unexploited in order to create wealth and employment.

He appealed to the TADB to convince Tanzania commercial banks to lend people to invest in the fisheries sector.

In earlier weeks, Deputy Minister for Finance and Planning Hamad Masauni had told TADB workers that the government is proud of their bank for steadily financing the agriculture sector and that the government will depend on the bank to ensure the sector grows fast. This means the TADB has enviable and valuable experience in serving toilers in the three sectors.

The bank has a new Managing Director, Mr Frank Nyabundege, who apparently was received with enthusiasm by workers when he reported for duty. The bank and its workers have accumulated useful and vast experience so far. There is evidence for this assertion.

The TADB has what it calls Smallholder Farmers Credit Guarantee Scheme (SCGS). This is a credit guarantee facility administered by the bank in relation to agriculture loans extended by its partner financial institutions (PFIs) to the agriculture sector.

The objective of the scheme is to catalyse commercial banks, community banks and microfinance banks in Tanzania to increase and improve access to lending by smallholder farmers who generally face challenges to access adapted and affordable finance from the formal financial sector.

So the TADB leadership will not have much problem in implementing Dr Tamatamas appeal. It has somewhere to start from in implementing the appeal. The SCGS became operational in 2018 and by last year it was already partnering with 11 partner financial institutions.

By August last year, two years since its inception, partner financial institutions had disbursed agricultural loans totaling to 56.33 billion, reaching 7,427 direct beneficiaries and 739,696 indirect beneficiaries. Out of the direct beneficiaries, 7,308 are individual farmers - 1,304 women and 6,004 men; 94 farmers groups and agricultural cooperative and 25 agroprocessing industries.

These billions sought to unlock challenges in 28 value chains, namely cashew nut, cotton, poultry, paddy, sugarcane, coffee, maize, cassava, sunflower, sisal, agro-inputs, cereals, horticulture, onion, livestock, mixed crops, sesame, fishing, avocado, pulses, beans, soya beans, lemongrass, palm oil, forestry, grape, tea and sorghum.

Mr Nyabundege should take advantage of experience so far accumulated by the bank and its workers in serving farmers, livestock keepers and anglers.

In Tanzania when you talk of future farmers, livestock keepers and anglers you are actually talking about young people who must be jointly organised, educated and funded now in order to drive national prosperity and increase social harmony. Semberya argues that a rapidly growing population puts high pressure on Tanzanias agricultural sector to meet its domestic demands and guarantee food security.

Potentially, the agricultural sector could absorb and employ a large share of the young population and help them to form their independent livelihoods and the youth could play a key role in addressing the challenges related to domestic food demand and food security.

The youth then need to be included in the sector and in the development of that sector.

About the writer: is a professional journalist working as a media consultant and researcher based in Dar es Salaam.He can be reached at keasi1971@gmail.com or +255 713 466661

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