Why Tanzania agricultural reforms vital

AGRICULTURE is the science or practice of farming, including cultivation of the soil for the growing of crops and the rearing of animals to provide food, wool, and other products.

It is the art or science of utilizing land for the sake of production and the raise of livestock. We could also say that it is the practice of cultivating plants and rearing livestock and it is the key development in the rise of sedentary human civilization.

It is divided also into main branches – crops husbandry that deals with production of crops and animal husbandry that deals with production of animals.

Tanzania being one of the fastest growing countries, its citizens especially in the rural areas is investing in agriculture, crops growing both food and cash crops. Tanzania is focusing on agriculture as a means to achieve economic growth. Its plans incorporate private sector engagement including the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania initiative, a public-private partnership to increase agricultural business investments in the country’s southern corridor.

Agriculture accounts for 26.7 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and provides employment for majority of the nation’s population, while the sector provides opportunities for agriculture businesses across domestic, regional and international markets for both traditional and news markets.

Although agriculture is the backbone of the country’s economy, accounting for more than one-quarter of the GDP, providing 85 per cent of exports and employing about 80 per cent of the workforce, it is still faced with various challenges.

Those challenges include climate change effects, drought, floods and lack of agricultural technology, while many people, especially in the rural areas are still using hand-hoe agriculture.

According to the official data, 19 per cent of Tanzanians are unable to meet basic food needs while 87 per cent are rural poor compared to 13 per cent in urban areas.

According to data, 90 per cent of the land is cultivated by smallholder farmers despite the sector providing 85.5 per cent employment, 30 per cent of the export market and 65 per cent of industrial raw materials.

About 36 per cent are people employed in the sector with insufficient income in basic food, shelter, clothing, education and health, while others depend mostly on their produce to pay for their medical bills.

According to the 2014 Household Income and expenditure survey, Tanzania has a high rate of poverty people who depend on agriculture.

Despite the importance of the agriculture sector, there are some issues that remain as an obstacle to farmers failing to graduate from hand-hoe agriculture, thus making agriculture appear to be like a punishment. Such obstacles include lack of agricultural inputs and the use of poor agricultural tools, such as handhoes despite the efforts undertaken by the Ministry of Agriculture to address those challenges.

The 2019/2020 results of agricultural census indicated that out of 12,007,839 households nationwide, 7,837,405 households equal to 65 per cent are engaged in agriculture.

Out of those households engaged in agriculture, 5,088,135 64.9 per cent engaged in agriculture, 2,589,156 (33.0 per cent) deals with agriculture and animal husbandry while less than one per cent engaged in aquaculture and nomadic pastoralism.

Those statistics show that as a nation we have significant investment in the agricultural sector and its crops where we need strategic planning, innovation, technology and adequate research skills in all kinds of crops so that these crops which cost a farmer in terms of financial resources could bring yield in the sector. According to the 2021 World Bank report, the poor remained predominantly rural, young and undereducated.

Four of every five individuals living below the international poverty line reside in rural areas, although the rural population accounts for only 48 per cent of the global population.

According to a report, poverty became more in rural areas between 2015 and 2018, the share of the rural poor in the total population of poor people increased by more than two percentage points during that period.

However, according to the report, in 2018 alone, half of the poor were children younger than 16 years of age, which accounted for only a quarter of the world population.

“Children and youth (15-24) together account for two-thirds of the global poor, much higher than the cumulative population share of the 0-24 age group globally (40 per cent of the total”, reads part of the report.

The high share of children and youth among the global poor, according to the report, is most prominent in Sub Saharan Africa, but it can be observed across most regions. But a different profile is seen only in high-income economies, where the poor are skewed toward the elderly and women are overrepresented among the poor globally and also across most regions of the world.

While Europe and Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and high –income economies according to the report have low female poverty, East Asia and Pacific, South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa have high female poverty, where the widest gaps are among children.

The report clarified that girls are more likely than boys to be overrepresented among the poor, as are women in their main reproductive years (15-34) across most world regions.

In the area of agriculture/ climate change, according to the report, some of the most destructive impacts of climate change are also expected to affect Sub Saharan Africa disproportionately. Some original analysis included in the report looks at the incidence of poverty and exposure to catastrophic floods due to climate change.

However Sub Saharan Africa stands out for joint occurrence of poverty and flood exposure.

According to the report, the region accounts for slightly more than 10 per cent of the global population with high food risks and it is home to more than half of the global poor facing high flood risks.

As a result, according to the WB report, there is a need for governments to continue creating conducive environment to enable farmers to produce more and at the same time participate in trees planting campaign The government should prepare a special register for farmers that will show how to invest in agriculture, management of extension services, business planning for its sales in order to benefit with agriculture.

There should also be savings mechanisms so as to enable farmers to sell their crops, to have in place food housing storage and continue with its efforts to revive local industries so as to boost the farmer’s economy and the nation, so that as a nation we can be in a position to fight these radical global changes.

It is good news that this financial year the budget for agriculture has substantially increased and the government is ready for agricultural revolution, coming with fertiliser subsidy and irrigation plans. These will change the sector significantly.

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