Tanzania’s food supply up amid COVID-19

TANZANIA’s food production continued to surge by 7.5 per cent or 1.33million tons during the 2019/20 farming season despite the impact of floods and the coronavirus pandemic which slowed production.

Agricultural Minister Japhet Hasunga said yesterday when presenting the national food security outlook that farmers had been able to produce 17.74million tons in grain equivalent for the 2020/21 food year up from 14.41million in the 2018/19 farming season.

According to the Minister maize, rice, cassava, legumes and potatoes contributed potentially to increased food security accounting for 36.0 per cent, 16.6 per cent, 14.0 per cent, 10.5 per cent and 9.2 per cent respectively. Plantains, millet, wheat also contributed 7.4 per cent, 5.9 per cent and 0.4 per cent respectively.

The new figures published yesterday in Dodoma was conducted by nine specialized teams involving experts from the Ministry of Agriculture, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), President’s Office Regional Administration and Local Governments. The survey found also that consumer demand for the 2020/21 is projected to surge by an over 500,000 tons compared to the year under review.

With the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) charged to procure at least 500,000 of grains this financial year, the minister detailed that the actual food demand had increased to 14.347million tons from 13.842tons in 2019/20.

“Despite that the nation faced the coronavirus pandemic, seasonal floods, doubts and disturbing insects we have managed to record over 124 per cent of food sufficiency,” the minister told a press conference in Dodoma “This is an increment from 119 per cent recorded previously.” The projected food demand includes 9.131million tons of cereals and about 5.216million tons of non-cereals.

The Minister went on to list 11 regions that had overperformed in grain equivalent of between 126 and 237 percentages to include Ruvuma, Rukwa, Songwe, Katavi, Mbeya, Njombe, Kigoma, Iringa, Kagera, Morogoro, and Geita.

“Regions that recorded food self-sufficiency of between 104 and 119 per cent includes Arusha, Pwani, Tanga, Kilimanjaro, Tabora, Mtwara, Dodoma, Lindi, Singida, Mara, Mwanza, Shinyanga, Simiyu and Manyara,” he announced.

Official records indicate Dar es Salaam region will record a shortage of food by 3 per cent.

Hasunga cited for instance that maize production in Ruvuma region has increased by 2.7 tons per hectare. The region is closely followed by Mbeya (2.6 tons), Songwe (2.5tons), Rukwa (2.2tons) and Katavi 2.1 tons per hectare.

Even though the minister was quick to point out that some councils including Kilwa, Lindi DC, Liwale, Rwangwa (Lindi region) , Ikungi, Itigi, Manyoni (Singida region), Simanjiro (Manyara) Meatu (Simiyu), Songwe DC (Songwe), Musoma DC (Mara), and Sumbawanga in Rukwa region could face slight food shortage.

It’s on records that regions such as Morogoro, Lindi, Kilimanjaro, Arusha, Dodoma, Singida, Katavi, Kagera, Tanga, Coastal, Songwe, Iringa, Mbeya and Rukwa faced challenges ranging from leaching, invasion of mice, wildlife animals and floods which affected production.

However, the minister maintained that the government was implementing appropriate measures to contain the problem and ensure constant food production in the areas. He announced some measures as improve crop storage systems, early preparation of agro-inputs as well as improving the transport infrastructures.

The 2019/20 farming season saw only 9.46million hectares out of 44million being farmed. The survey which was conducted between May and June considered the average of the population against the actual food produced, existing food demands, excess food production and the impacts of natural calamities such as floods.

Hasunga said the government invested over 96bil/- last season to improve irrigation infrastructures across the country.


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