Experts say climate smart agriculture is a way to go
ARUSHA: PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan’s call at the just ended East African Community (EAC) Heads of State meeting held in Arusha has been hailed as a timely vision for the member states to become food sufficient while mitigating climate change.
Dr Samia has underscored the importance of climate smart agriculture in increasing food production. She further highlighted the private sector’s role in the initiative.
The president, who was speaking during the just ended EAC High-Level Forum on Climate Change and Food Security in Arusha, disclosed that Tanzania was investing in climate smart technologies through the Build Better Tomorrow, an initiative that is aimed at increasing the involvement of youths and women in agriculture to boost agricultural production and reduce poverty while conserving the environment.
She equally emphasised the role of the private sector in post-harvest agro-processing and value addition, adding that the government was also facilitating irrigation schemes by building dams to harvest rainwater.
“The government was facilitating access to climate financing by encouraging commercial banks to lend to green projects,” she explained.
To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Dr Samia said that Tanzania has dedicated 25 per cent of its national land to forests, saying this would serve as a carbon sink with the private sector also being encouraged to venture into carbon sinking.
President Samia revealed that due to increased agricultural production, Tanzania was now exporting rice, avocadoes and other horticultural produce to the regional and international markets.
“Tanzania is giving tax incentives to investors in green renewable energies, agricultural machinery and inputs and value addition in agriculture,” she added.
In the course, President Samia call has prompted experts’ thoughts on how the region and the African economic region together could regain its food production ability to sustain itself in the face of volatile shifting weather patterns.
Economist-cum-investment banker, Dr Hildebrand Shayo said it is true that Africa needs a strategic plan to address its problems through its own funding mechanisms.
“We can improve the food situation in our countries after hearing the meeting’s issues and goals and seeing the president’s clip, which went viral on some of our social media insisting that we need a strategic plan to address our problems as Africans through our own funding mechanisms,” he pointed out.
Dr Shayo said even with the good intentions of the regional distinguished leaders, he believes that greater food security won’t be possible until there are deliberate efforts to address five areas of intervention that sound critical.
He mentioned them as marketing agricultural products; providing fertiliser; providing improved seeds; providing agricultural extension services and digitalising the industry for instance e-agriculture, with not only a focus and seriousness but with clear coordination between these areas with mechanisms to provide feedback on progress and challenges encountered.
“After all, everyone acknowledges that our countries have become unfriendly to the production of food and crops because of the environmental impact that the world has witnessed, and is still grappling with due to unpredictable weather patterns that threaten the planet today,” he said.
A lecturer of economics at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) Prof Humphrey Moshi was of the view that President Samia’s appeal to fellow countries to embark on smart agriculture should be the way to go, indicating that it has taken quite a longtime for the countries to realise this.
He recommended that the time to continue engaging in mere talk has expired; therefore, African countries need to immediately go to action by revolutionising its agricultural sector.
Prof Shayo cited an example of Tanzania where 62 per cent of households depend on agriculture for their sustenance but were yet to benefit from the sector due to the present state where people depend on seasonal rains for production.
“We need to act first, let’s utilise the country’s three major lakes — Lake Victoria, Lake Nyasa and Lake Tanganyika to revolutionise our agricultural practices by moving to irrigation farming…800 Kilometres of the ocean is also another potential,” said Prof Moshi.
He stressed on revolutionising agriculture by doing away with ordinary ways for the transformation of the major economic activities to become inclusive in the eradication of poverty in the country, citing improvement in farming inputs, farming tools as well as embarking on irrigation farming.
The EAC Summit was also in agreement that increased investment in climate smart agriculture and renewable energy are the best approach to mitigate the impact of climate change, and improving access to and availability of food for their citizens.
The Heads of State further agreed that there was a need to improve rainwater harvesting to ensure increased availability of water for irrigation agriculture.
In his remarks, Kenya’s President William Ruto said that his country had prioritised the conservation of its water towers that are being fenced to guard against encroachment and destruction.
He described Kenya as 80 per cent arid and semi-arid saying that the country doesn’t have enough rain but has adequate water.