Tanzania can be Africa’s food basket

OVER the weekend, a virtual conference underlined great economic potential in Tanzania’s Southern Highlands regions.

The Southern Highlands zone comprises five regions of Njombe, Mbeya, Rukwa, Ruvuma and Songwe. The regions are rich in fertile soil and virgin lands that are highly underutilised.

This is the case across the country, where most of arable lands, suitable for food and cash crops, are unexploited, the need for increased interventions to transform the agricultural sector.

As per the National Development Plan, agriculture is central to Tanzania’s industrialisation and a major generator of employment with approximately 65 per cent of the population engaged in various agricultural activities.

Significantly, the sector contributes to about 27 per cent of the country’s GDP and about 24 per cent to the total exports, with a big potential of swelling those numbers.

We acknowledge commendable plans and initiatives taken by the government to ensure the growth of this key sector.

Such plans as underlined in the Five-Year Development Plan III, include developing strong forward and backward linkages between agriculture sector and other economic sectors; creating favourable environments for the private sector to engage profitably in production and export of agricultural raw materials, semi-finished and finished goods; strengthening effective training and research programmes and ensuring sustainable research and development on agricultural crops so as to integrate the value chain domestically and abroad.

The aforementioned interventions are envisaged to increase agricultural production and productivity, create more employment, expand the diversification of products and strengthen the value chain in the agricultural sector.

While recognising the government’s efforts to promote agriculture, the role of the private sector should be emphasised. There is a need for increased investments in the agricultural production chain. Thus, investors and financial institutions need to chip in and support the sector.

With sound investments, modern production systems and food processing technologies, the agricultural sector has the potential to be a major driver of Tanzania’s economic growth by assuring reliable food supply not only for the domestic population but the whole of Africa.

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