How Tanzania agriculture can cope with effects of climate change


  • Tanzanian farmers have been suffering as a result of the effects of climate change, which force them to record losses every year

Dar es Salaam. Agriculture stakeholders have proposed intervention methods, such as policy harmonisation and resource mobilisation, to mitigate the effects of climate change on the country’s agronomy. Others are working to improve water harvesting technology and infrastructure, increase support for research institutes, address post-harvest losses and involve all stakeholders.

Other methods include educating farmers and the community about the consequences, as well as urging wealthy countries to keep their promises to financially assist developing countries in dealing with the effects of climate change.

Speaking to The Citizen, Agriculture Non-State Actors Forum (Ansaf) executive director Audax Rukonge said issues of climate change such as policies and resources should be streamlined in all relevant sectors in order to effectively address impacts of climate change.

“This is the most critical part because without the best policies to guide our implementation and activities, we will fail to question and hold accountable our leaders, including the president, vice president and the responsible minister,” he said. He said the country should develop pre-requisite infrastructures that will allow efficient collection of rainwater during the rainy season for storage.

Mr Rukonge stated that collected water should be released during the dry season for agriculture irrigation and livestock use.

“This should be done in conjunction with the establishment of a relief package that would allow farmers to purchase solar panels at low cost for running water pumping motors and avoid using diesel, which pollutes the environment,” he said. He added: “Therefore, it is important to see how our fiscal policies catalyse issues of addressing impacts of climate change.”

Furthermore, he said the country should increase support to research institutions; the Tanzania Livestock Research Institute (Taliri), the Tanzania Fisheries Research Institute (Tafiri) and the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (Tari).

He said they should come up with breeds and technologies that will enable farmers to overcome the negative effects of climate change.

“For instance, Tari should provide high yield seeds that are drought resistant and require a minimum amount of water. Therefore, consistent investment and resource allocation to research centres is an act of paramount importance,” he said.

According to Mr Rukonge, storage, processing and packaging technologies should be acquired to address the challenge of post-harvest losses that account to 30-40 percent for cereals, up to 50 percent for vegetables and about 90 percent for perishables like fish and meat.

“There should be enough cold-room systems with modern technology that will enable them to operate using low energy and produce enough cold that will enable the produce to be stored for a long time,” he said. He added: “This should go alongside reducing exporting unprocessed products. Raw Cashew Nuts (RCN) can be stored for up to six months, but kernels can be stored for over two years,” he added. In addition, he said that coffee that had been correctly blended and packaged could fetch a higher price than coffee made from raw beans.

“Therefore, it is crucial that the government effectively coordinates these concerns with full participation from other parties, such as the corporate sector, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil society organisations (CSOs), funders, etc,” he said. The Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) Kilombero Cluster manager, Mr John Banga concurred with Mr Rukonge in that the government was obliged to formulate better policies and laws that will guarantee players to observe issues of environmental conservation.

“Fortunately, Tanzania has good policies and laws. However, the challenge remains in implementation. We have witnessed the drying of rivers in the southern highlands with Morogoro being among the affected regions,” he said.

According to him, education should be extended to the citizens who pollute the environment. He said SAGCOT and its stakeholders have designed a system used to oversee investors’ role on environmental pollution in the agriculture sector. “Big and small companies that have partnered with SAGCOT are now audited annually using the guideline known as Inclusive Green Growth Guiding Tool (IGGGT),” he said. “They are annually required to assess themselves how the investment they have made in the sector is contributing in the environmental and river pollution as well as tree felling or relocation of communities,” he added. Mr Banga also reiterated the usual call from developing countries that developed nations (industrialised countries) should fulfil their commitments reached in different global summits including the Paris Agreement.

He said the agreements require them to support investment that will increase adaptation strategies and action for developing countries to become resilient to climate change.

How climate change impact agriculture in Tanzania

According to Mr Banga, climate change negatively impacts environmental resources such as weather, access to water and natural resources that have a direct connection with crop production.

“Rainfall predictability has been greatly impacted by climate change, depriving crops of dependable soil moisture for crop production. Due to the effects of climate change, weather predictions are rarely met in the agriculture sector,” he said.

He added: “What’s even worse is that shifts in rain system and pattern are frequently linked to outbreaks of livestock and agricultural illnesses and pests, leaving stakeholders ill-prepared to take preventative actions.”

According to Mr. Banga, small-scale farmers were most impacted since they could not even afford the right technologies for mitigation measures.He  He said excessive rains brought on by climate change have caused frequent floods, which have interfered with plans for using the area for farming, habitation, animal grazing, and other activities.

“Human actions like tree cutting and bush fires significantly contribute to climate change, especially in poorer nations. These actions increase runoff and decrease water retention capacity,” he said.

He asserts that the loss in water sinking and absorption capacity, which has been hampered by human activity, is what is responsible for the rise in runoff.

“Farmers should be assisted to build mitigation systems in their farms that will reduce the impacts of possible floods. The systems could construct contours and trenches to prevent water from entering their farms,” he said.

What the government says

Tabling the 2022/23 budget in Parliament, Agriculture minister Hussein Bashe said the ministry has planned to distribute guidelines of climate change adaptation agriculture to at least 30 district councils in the country. The minister said 10 district councils will be given better agriculture technologies that withstand negative impacts of climate change.

“The ministry is finalising the National Strategy for Agricultural Ecology 2022-2032 that will provide vision and guidelines on ecological agriculture in the country,” he told Parliament in Dodoma.