Why technology is still critical?

Why technology is still critical?

BY all stated measures, agriculture is never a cog in a machine when it comes to significance in economic wellbeing of the country. Its indispensability is not in name only, jobs created along the value chain and foreign currency that it generates will makes it a linchpin in Tanzanian settings for many years to come.

Even before pandemic the world was still reeling from inadequate supply of food and industrial materials which all emanated from cultivation.

It is estimated by the United Nations that 821 million is not just a mere number but a count of people who regularly go to bed while hungry. This happens at a time when the inhabitants of the earth are around 7.8 billion.

Given the current population growth rate, the world’s population will be around 10 billion by year 2050, the largest fraction of the people, 25 per cent to be precise, will reside in African continent.

This will happen at time when land – which is always finite – will decrease in size after accommodating additional 2 billion newly registered global citizens.

It is interesting to fathom that even if the current cultivation area will not be reduced by settlements expansion – which is highly unlikely – will have to produce huge amount of food than it does now to protect the population from starving while ensuring that they are healthy as well. It is at this point where the question of technology turns out be a necessity rather than an option.

The level of improved seeds usage in Tanzania is below the continental par. Recent studies shows that the estimate of the area planted with fresh improved maize seed was 26 per cent, meaning more than 70 per cent of seeds used by farmers in the country were recycled for a number of years which normally gives lower yield.

The 2020/21 food production is rather colourful. Comparing last year’s, the Ministry of Agriculture’s preliminary food production evaluation reveals that there will be an increment of 1.3 million tonnes equivalent to 7.5 per cent. Again this means food surplus will expand giving way for real agribusiness to thrive as well.

But one thing that may go unchecked is the fact that this addition is – as it usually – highly attributed to horizontal expansion (expansion of cultivation area) rather than vertical (increase in productivity).

This form of expansion stands to be affected by exponential increase in the population as indicated above. Contrary to the famous reasoning that farmers are wary of using improved seeds, experience shows the opposite that improved seeds demand is so huge that it outweighs supply.

This begs the question whether as a country we are investing enough in agriculture technology. Our land is highly fertile that only few nutrients are needed to boost health of soil, but given the climate change spectre coupled with population increase, fertiliser production is also a reality that we must face as it is.

Debate is very huge on the ground on whether industrial fertilisers or animal manure should be a way forward. Whereas those campaigning for industrial fertilisers focus on tapping its capacity to give more crops while losing sight on its danger on climate, the manure advocates are so eager to see that climate conservation is given a priority.

Whichever way, fertilisers play a bigger role that it can hardly be taken for granted anymore. Now, the unsuitable part of all this is that one must really decide to invest in.

Then you realise that the 2014 Malabo Declaration – to have every government set aside 10 per cent of her budget for agriculture – was not in vain, because you really need to bend underneath the bed to get what you want.

Nigeria tried to get deep in the coffers to reverse food deficit situation and results are clear in a very short period of time now. All being said and done, there are some good tidings.

Good news is capacity is there and readiness for players to participate is high now more than ever and that we are not on the starting line, what remains is turbocharging the existing momentum

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