Experts suggest measures to mitigate drought effects

What you need to know:

  • The TMA warning means that citizens have to brace for worse effects of weather changes, but investment is needed boosting alternative solutions

Dar es Salaam. Experts yesterday advised the government to make massive investment in technology of drilling boreholes, improved seeds, food reserve and water harvesting to mitigate the effect of shortage of rainfall which has been announced by Tanzania Meteorological Authority (TMA).

They also advised farmers to plant crops that are drought tolerant such as cassava and sorghum so that people could benefit with little rainfall (below normal).

But, the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) allayed fears to Tanzanians that the agency had enough food stock to enable feed the country in the next three months.

The experts’ advice came after TMA said yesterday during a press briefing on climate outlook for October –December rainy season (Vuli) that most parts of regions will have little rainfall that could affect agriculture, livestock and fishery, tourism and wildlife.

TMA director general Agnes Kijazi said the situation was expected to affect agricultural activities such as land preparation, planting and use of agricultural inputs.

“There would be an increase in crop diseases and pests including ants, army worms, locusts and rodents are expected to occur,” she said.

Explaining further, she said livestock and fishery outlook during the season would likely affect water and pasture availability for livestock and food for fish.

This condition will affect production of fish and livestock products.

Animals are expected to suffer due to water and pasture scarcity.

Also due to insufficient pasture and water there would be a likelihood of emerging conflicts between pastoralists and other land users.

Dr Kijazi said that below normal to normal rains were expected to reduce the availability of pastures and water that would result in conflicts between the communities surrounding the reserve and wildlife. She said that the transmission of diseases from wildlife to livestock was expected to occur due to interaction between them when searching for water and pasture.

Agriculture Non State Actors Forum (Ansaf) executive director Audax Rukonge said yesterday that the situation was very alarming as 80 per cent of every activity depends on water.

Mr Rukonge said that the situation would lead to scarcity of food, increase of food price and reduce exportation of food.

“The government should invest in research technology that would help to preserve so that when there is little rainfall it could be easy to supplement livestock, plants and the communities,” he said.

He noted that the government should invest in early mature crops and high yield seeds, the food reserve must be well managed to reduce post-harvest and ensure there is enough food stock.

Sokoine University of Agriculture (Sua) senior lecturer Anna Temu said that instead of depending on the rainy season only, the government should facilitate and invest in underground water by drilling boreholes.

“Due to climate change there is no way we can depend on rainy water which comes once in a season, we need to invest in ground water and this could only be achieved if the government reduced taxation charged when drilling boreholes,” said Dr Temu.

She was of the view that Tanzania should borrow a leaf from Namibia, a desert country that uses its little rainfall to collect water.

She also suggested for Tanzania to draw a lesson from South Africa, a country that has a lot of ponds that supplement crops and livestock in case of drought.

There is a need to facilitate and provide awareness to the community on the effectiveness of rainy water.

The Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (Tari) Hombolo center manger Dr Joel Meliyo, said that farmers should be prepared psychologically, for various types of crops especially those that are drought tolerant.

“Farmers should ensure that they prepare their farmland early so that when it rains they could plant the crops immediately,” said Dr Meliyo.