Small NFRA budget can lead to food crisis, govt cautioned

Saturday May 18 2019

 

By Sharon Sauwa @TheCitizenTZ news@tz.nationmedia.com

Dodoma. The Agriculture, Livestock and Water Parliamentary Committee has cautioned over the limited budget of the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) for the 2019/2020 Financial Year.

The committee has said the Agency’s limited budget can have a severe impact on NFRA and cause food shortages.

The deputy chair of the committee, Dr Christine Ishengoma, made the statement Friday on May 17 2019 while handing over the committee’s views about the revenue estimates and spending of the Agriculture ministry for the 2019/2020 Financial Year.

Dr Ishengoma has cautioned that the limited budget could reduce the government’s capability to counter emergencies that may occur, saying the Agency asked to be endorsed with Sh67 billion for the purchase of 124,000 tonnes of grains for the National Food Reserve to cater for emergencies that might occur.

She said since the weather forecast had shown a scarcity of rains and delayed torrential rains, then a shortage of food could hit the country.

“However, the government has allocated Sh15 billion, which is only 22 per cent of the money that has been asked for as the cash will enable the acquisition of only 28,000 tonnes of grains,” she said.

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On the other hand, the opposition faulted the government decision to buy cashew nuts without involving the private sector saying the move denied Tanzania foreign exchange.

Presenting the opposition speech on the Ministry of Agriculture, Chadema’s Paschal Haonga said cashew nut did not generate any foreign currency in the current financial year while it brought $945 million during the 2017/18.

“Export levy alone brought about $200 million but this time around Tanzania gets nothing,” he said.

Mr Haonga also said disbanding cashew nut board which was established by act of the Parliament without tabling a bill to repeal the law was unconstitutional.

“Worse enough, that decision was contempt of Parliament and sabotage to cashew farmers who do not know who coordinates the produce,” added Mr Haonga.

Tabling his ministry’s budget speech, minister for Agriculture and Livestock Mr Japhet Hasunga said the government conducted an assessment on the food situation in December 2018. According to him, the assessment show that the country has sufficient amount of food.

However, the minister cautioned the citizens to be carefully, when using food due to lack of rain this season, which threatens production of food next season.

This season, the minister told the parliament that a total of 16.89 million tonnes of food was produced, which is in excess of 3.2 million tonnes of actual requirement.