EDITORIAL: Push for investment in local wheat production

Wednesday July 15 2020

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture — a global think tank dedicated to fighting hunger — has warned that a rise in global wheat prices could lead to a severe shortage of the cereal in Tanzania.

The body argues that although Tanzania relies heavily on wheat from outside, imports are way too small to influence world prices in its favour. Reliance on world trade means that a slight increase in the commodity’s prices can result in a sharp drop in imports “with significant implications for food security”.

The body further reveals that the value of Tanzania’s wheat imports rose from $158 million in 2010 to $415 million in 2017.Existing literature shows that wheat is Tanzania’s fourth most consumed crop after maize, cassava and rice. Wheat accounts for about a third of the total food imports value.

This revelation-cum-caution is important in many ways. First, it seeks to alert Tanzania of the need to find ways of minimising its reliance on imported wheat.

This means that the country must increase domestic wheat production so as to have good control of it availability locally. Second, the revelation is an eye-opener—that there is an investment opportunity worth over $415 million (nearly Sh1 trillion). This is very significant. Third, the market for the commodity is readily available. What is needed is appropriate investment in wheat production.

 

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Hence, the revelation is proof that Tanzanians have yet to fully utilise the potential offered by the agriculture sector. Currently, agriculture contributes nearly 25 percent of gross domestic product, and employs nearly 70 percent of Tanzania’s labour force.

 

Increased investment in wheat production means that the sector’s contribution to the economy would also grow and benefit the country in many ways. Let Tanzanians grab this opportunity and help sustain food security in the country.

 

WE CAN MAKE OUR ROADS SAFER

 A report released recently by traffic police shows that five in every ten road accidents in 2019 were caused by careless driving. The staggering figures highlight just how much of a threat to safety careless drivers have become. According to the report, careless driving accounted for 816 road accidents last year, the highest tally compared to other accident causes.

Drivers need to be more careful at all times when driving. Taking preventive and safety measures such as ensuring constant and timely maintenance of their vehicles is one way these needless accidents can be avoided.

Furthermore, emphasis should be extended to motorcycle riders in efforts to minimise and eventually prevent fatal road accidents.

Busy centres such as intersections, highways and central business districts are hot spots for accidents. Such areas should be approached with caution by motorists, and pedestrians should always be wary of any possible danger.

However, the report did show a slight decline in the number of road accidents compared to figures from 2018, a sign that we are taking gradual steps in the right direction. Even so, there is more that needs to be done.