THE government is committed to help farmers improve their yields in ensuring food security continues to be attained as well as transforming the country’s food systems and ultimately achieve all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to the government, smallholder farmers are key for transforming the food systems but they don’t have the resources to do so.
Minister for Agriculture Prof Adolf Mkenda said this last Friday, adding that low productivity for farmers leads to shortage of food, including edible oil and other cash crops in the country.
Speaking during the launch of Tanzania Research Agriculture Institute (TARI) Nzuguni hub technology that will facilitate access to agriculture services closer to farmers Prof Mkenda said the government is working tirelessly to turn things around.
Minister Mkenda said that government will continue to increase short, medium and long-term development funding to agriculture for the sector to grow at the required pace.
Prof Mkenda said time has now come for agriculture sector to carry out productive researches that will significantly help the growth of the sector instead of dwelling much on slogans.
“The government knows the importance of research and it has increased the ministry's budget from 7.3bn/- to 11bn/- in 2021/2022 financial year,” Prof Mkenda said, adding that he needs to see quality seeds reach farmers.
TARI Director General, Dr Geoffrey Mkamilo said the newly launched hub will allow farmers to get the best seeds researched by TARI and other services instead of waiting for farmers’ day which is observed once a year.
“This hub will provide services throughout the year and we will have a wide variety of crops which are doing well in the central zone,” said Dr Mkamilo.
The hub, located at Nzuguni, famously known as Nane Nane in Dodoma will among others conduct researches on seeds, offer training of extension officers, farmers and other stakeholders on different technologies along the value chain throughout the year.
The Centre will receive stakeholders’ challenges in the value chain of the products grown and seek appropriate solutions including mentoring and training.
He insisted that TARI contributes to making traditional farming more productive, and if possible making it commercial.
Tanzania’s economy has continued to be dominated by agriculture. The sector employs about 66.3 per cent of Tanzania’s workforce. Much of agricultural production lies in the private sector.
According to the third Five-Year National Development Plan (FYDP III), agriculture sector contributes to about 27 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and about 24 per cent to the total exports.
The government intends to improve application of science, technology and innovation to improve productivity and yields in agriculture sector.
The document points clearly that the agricultural growth has been stagnant, requiring the use of technology and research to increase productivity and yields.
The plan drums for proper use of research and technology which will increase yields, reduce food prices, reduce risks and increase profits and thus benefit citizens from the integrated system of the agricultural sector.
In order to increase productivity and efficiency in the agricultural sector, FYDP III will focus on
the prioritised products which are maize, rice, cotton, cashew nut, tea, coffee, tobacco, sisal, palm, wheat, soybean, cocoa, cassava, sugarcane, horticulture and sunflower.
Key interventions will be to enhance research and development in strategic crops, expand sustainable water and land use management through integrated land use planning and improvement of irrigation systems including construction of water reservoirs.
Others include enhancing productivity in strategic crop production, strengthening competitive crop value chain and commercialisation.
It also targets to encourage the use of Information Communication Technology ( ICT) in operation of cooperatives, commercial agriculture, provision of extension services and introduce modern crop management systems.