Dar es Salaam/Mbeya. Agriculture stakeholders yesterday identified key issues that require strategic intervention to improve productivity--including: access to quality seeds; soil health services; management of post-harvest losses; improved storage facilities; processing; and marketing.
Others are financing solutions, improved regulatory environment by the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) and strengthening cooperatives.
They outlined the issues during the Farm Clinic Symposium held in Mbeya under the theme: ‘Agenda 10/30 Agriculture is Business’.
The event was co-organised by the Ministry of Agriculture, Mwananchi Communications Limited (MCL), Vodacom.
The other partners were the Tanzania Agriculture Development Bank (TADB), Azania Bank, USAID and Agricultural Sector Policy and Institutional Reforms Strengthening (Aspires).
Speaking during the event, Aspires Tanzania policy advisor David Nyange said policy measures were required for the sector’s sustainability, competitiveness, job creation and increasing contribution to the country’s economy.
“We’re working to reduce policy evidence gap and establish foundation for more inclusive, transparent and sustainable processes of policy formulations in the agriculture sector,” he said.
Azania Bank Agribusiness Financing manager Augustine Matutu said commercial banks have been hesitating in funding individual farmers, noting that the coming of block farming would provide financing solution.
“Commercial banks’ reluctance was caused by difficulties in dealing with individual farmers. The introduction of block farming provides commercial banks’ commitment in supporting farmers,” he said.
He said the current government and TADB initiatives to support block farming, commercial banks would chip in supporting the sector. Furthermore, he said there would be a challenge for commercial banks to support long term investment in the sector such as building irrigation infrastructure, noting, however, that it would support investment to improve productivity.
During the event, Tanzania Horticulture Association (Taha) executive director Jacqueline Mkindi said availability of reliable market was crucial for the 10/30 agenda realisation.
“Also, we are supposed to enter into partnership with fertilizer companies. They should invest in the country in order to saturate the market and even export,” she said.
She also underscored the importance of data on both import and export for proper alignment between the public and private sector, adding that given definitions should be well understood by both sides.
Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (Tari) representative Catherine Senkoro challenged the government to increase farmers’ awareness on the soil health and suitable fertilizers that should be applied to increase productivity.
Shamba FM director Fredy Herbert said the National Bureau of Statics (NBS) should identify agriculture stakeholders, insisting that in the agenda execution, journalists should not be left behind.
The director of economics statistics at the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Mr Daniel Masolwa, said the government was determined to collect accurate agriculture-related data in the areas of land use, scale of farms, number of crops and livestock for herders.
The purpose of doing so is to enable policy makers and other stakeholders allocate enough resources for the sectors’ growth.
“In the August 23, 2022 Census, the government has added some segments in the questionnaire that will provide data from participating households,” he said.
“Expected data include the number of households involved in crops farming, aquaculture, pastoralism and tree farming as well as understanding the scale and status of production and ownership,” he added.
Furthermore, he said data from the beekeeping subsector, which is the fastest growing economic activity, would also be collected in order to fill existing statistics gap and provide support in planning and policy formulation aimed at promoting the sector.
He said collected information provides benchmark data for stakeholders to determine adequate resources needed to support the growth for the wellbeing of the population.
Meanwhile, the TADB director of research and planning, Mr Mzee Kilele, highlighted strategies that would complement the government’s financing gap so as to boost country’s agricultural production.
According to him, the private sector, including financial institutions, insurance companies and development banks should address challenges facing farmers including lack of security in their activities.
“They should provide guarantee to farmers through programmes such as those available in TADB, The bank also provided Sh150 billion to small and middle sized farmers,” he said.
“It is important to attract the private equity investment in order for the sector to grow. Unfortunately, the equity investment is low unlike some African countries like Nigeria,” he added.
The Vodacom agriculture projects manager in Mbeya Region, Mr Edgar Mboki, said the firm’s involvement in the sector aimed at sharing its vibrant development in the area of innovation.
Earlier, MCL managing director Bakari Machumu said the event aimed at highlighting the government’s plans in realisation of the agenda 10/30.
“We also focus at putting our organisation as a bridge in providing superior content to farmers and other stakeholders,” he said.
Opening the event, Agriculture deputy minister Anthony Mavunde said in order to realise the Agenda 10/30 Tanzania has increased its agriculture budget from Sh294 billion in 2021/22 to Sh954 billion in 2022/23 fiscal year.
“In Parliament, the ministry was summoned by the Parliamentary Committee for Agriculture, Water and Livestock; the Parliamentary Budget Committee and the Finance and Planning minister to provide commitment in the budget execution,” he said.
Therefore, he said the ministry has directed the National Irrigation Commission (NIRC) to increase the size of irrigated land and ensure irrigation schemes are established in places with dams providing reliable source of water.
“NIRC is constructing 13 new water dams in various parts of the country and rehabilitating many other schemes. Also, the ministry has heavily harvested in research,” he said.
“This is because agriculture is research and science. Politics should end in platforms something that the public needs to agree,” he said.
According to him, since research was the heart of the country’s agriculture, the government has increased its budget to Sh40 billion specifically to come up with appropriate technologies, draught resistant, improved seed and suitable soil for agriculture activities.
According to him, the country has committed to increase seeds production, reduce foreign dependency and export the surplus it would produce.
“In order that to happen the seeds multiplication budget has increased from Sh10.5 billion in the 2021/22 to Sh45 billion in the 2022/23 for utilisation by the Agricultural Seeds Agency (ASA),” he said.
“We are determined to provide modern irrigation services to all the 17 seeds producing farms instead of relying on rain-fed farming systems,” he added.
Also, he said the government has increased the budget allocated for extension services to Sh15 billion in the new financil year.
The move, according to him, would enable extension officers to have reliable transport, extension kits and 143 agrocare scanners for soil examinations in their respective work stations.
Furthermore, he said currently, the government has 7,000 extension officers countrywide out of 20,000 required, noting however that different efforts were underway to ensure farmers are reached wherever they are in the country.
“We are obliged to ensure block farming is increased from 110 to 10,000 reaching 2030 that would assure production uniformity, easy caring care and increase production,” he said.
In the area marketing, he said warehouses have been leased for use by traders in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Juba in South Sudan.
(Written by Louis Kolumbia, Josephine Christopher and Hellen Nachilongo)