Farm Clinic: Its importance in transformation of agriculture

MCL managing Director Bakari Machumu speaks during the launch of Farm Clinic Ajenda 10/30 in Mbeya

Summary

  • The initiative was launched by the Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa, in Mbeya Region aimed at gathering key agriculture stakeholders, an idea originated from the Mwananchi Thought Leadership Forum (MTLF).

Dar es Salaam. Agriculture stakeholders yesterday explained the significance of Farm Clinic in the country’s agriculture transformation.

The initiative was launched by the Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa, in Mbeya Region aimed at gathering key agriculture stakeholders, an idea originated from the Mwananchi Thought Leadership Forum (MTLF).

Farm Clinic is a continuation idea from the MTLF event held in 2019 by Mwananchi Communications Limited (MCL) under the theme: ‘Our agriculture, our lifeline’.

Speaking to The Citizen yesterday, MCL managing director, Mr Bakari Machumu said the 2019 event attended by the then Agriculture minister, Mr Japhet Hasunga, is the origin of the Farm Clinic.

“Different stakeholders gave valuable contributions during the event and the minister pledged to work on the recommendations. But, the question was whether MTLF will be discussing without making stakeholders implementation plans?” he said.

“We started publishing ‘Seeds of Gold’ and ‘Mbegu ya Dhahabu’ in the company’s English and Swahili respective editions,” he added.

According to him, the initiative did not end people’ thirsty to get enough knowledge about agricultural practices including inputs, seeds and accurate information from credible sources.

“Therefore, Farm Clinic aims at extending MTLF issues in a practical way. Particular crops will be chosen in the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (Tari) where there are demonstration farms for executing best practices to farmers and other stakeholders,” he said.

According to him, Farm Clinic provides a platform to the ministry of Agriculture that has policies, strategies and experts to communicate with farmers and other stakeholders.

“What does this mean? In order for a farmer to cultivate certain crops, he/she is supposed to be aware of the soil health, appropriate seeds and suitable weather which turns to be the Tari responsibility to research,” he said.

“They may require capital for agribusiness and that is where banks chip in. Farmers will need to harvest, make storage, marketing and transactions. The initiative is obliged to bring stakeholders at one centre and hold comprehensive dialogue on a particular crop,” he added.

He said during the dialogue, farmers and stakeholders will have the opportunity to discuss seeds, the amount of yields produced and different important information such as weather.

Mr Machumu said that is where the company’s partnership with Vodacom Tanzania was expected to work by providing farmers with rapid information and transactions.

He said Farm Clinic requires one to know how to go about it and get skills in different areas such as the health of the soil, types of seeds, type and quantity of fertilizers, harvesting methods, market availability, etc.

“That is how Farm Clinic empowers through provision of information which we believe is a power to enable them to go for the better. This is a progressive initiative that will be implemented according to strategic plans set by the ministry of Agriculture,” he said.

Mr Machumu said MCL is determined to hold four sessions of Farm Clinic including a symposium held in Mbeya themed: Agenda 10/30 Agriculture is business.

He said the initiative will be held in Tari centres of excellence for different crops such as grapes at the Central Zone; cotton in the Lake Zone; coffee in the Northern Zone depending on the Agriculture ministry.

“Delivering his closing remarks, deputy minister for Agriculture, Mr. Anthony Mavunde suggested that another forum that will engage other stakeholders such as the Bank of Tanzania (BoT), other financial institutions, dealers in health, education, infrastructure,” he said during a mobile phone interview.

“This is a challenge that has been taken back to us to organise another huge national dialogue involving many agriculture stakeholders. The ministry will also incorporate stakeholder’s opinion collected during Farm Clinic in its execution strategies,” he said.

Yesterday, the seeds inspector from the Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI), Mr Emmanuel Mwakatobe, said it was a great privilege for the event to be launched by the Prime Minister.

This provides evidence that it is a serious initiative intended to revolutionize the country’s agriculture and attain the 10/30 agenda, according to him.

“The initiative will bring productivity as it will respond to different questions and challenges that farmers have been facing. Most importantly, providing them with better access to agricultural information,” he said.

“Farm Clinics will build the capacity of famers and other stakeholders. They will change their mind-set, expose them to new technology because modern tech and Farm Clinic are inseparable,” he added.

But, Dr Joel Meliyo from Tari said Farm Clinic is going to help efficient operation of agricultural technology hubs located in different parts of the country.

“Farm Clinics will be a better catalyst to spread information and technology to stakeholders as well as collecting feedback in a two way traffic method of information dissemination,” he said.

According to him, in case there are new seeds varieties, farming practices etc that would increase productivity, they will easily and efficiently be taken to farmers and stakeholders.

“In order to record the 10 percent growth, we need to use technology, improved seeds, agro mechanisation, irrigation and link producers to reliable markets. Therefore, Farm Clinic is going to be a hub for all this to happen,” he said.

During the symposium, the director of economic statistics at the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Mr Daniel Masolwa said Tanzania can realise the 10/30 before 2030.

“This is because government strategies and plans are well set. They have started to be seen this year through the Agriculture Budget. Nearly one trillion has been allocated for the sector which is a huge amount,” he said.

He said this year’s census is necessary for resources mobilization and understanding of actual country’s demand in agricultural production.

“What I consider shameful is importation of cooking oil and sugar, while losing job creation opportunity,” he said.

“Both sugar and edible oil could be produced domestically and rescue funds used for importation. The country’s workforce is estimated at 60 percent, hence sugar and edible oil importation takes employment outside the country,” he said.

“As a result our people remain idle and are forced to go for informal activities. They could be engaged in agriculture and save the money that was intended to go outside,” he said.

According to him, the surplus produced products could be exported and attract foreign currency that apart from strengthening balance of trade, they enable the country consolidate its foreign money reserves.