Tanzania’s strategy to boost wheat yield, reduce imports

What you need to know:

  • The government has outlined plans to increase wheat production to one million tonnes by 2025, significantly reducing over-reliance on imports

Dar es Salaam. Tanzania is strategising to increase wheat production to a million tonnes come 2025 and reduce reliance on the imports.

To achieve the goal, the country seeks to take such measures as mobilising use of improved seeds approved by the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (Tari) and setting aside thousands of acres for wheat cultivation.

The government will also increase funds for research and development as well as reduce post-harvest losses that frustrate farmers to actively engage in crop production.

The measures come at a time when the country produced a paltry 70,288 tonnes of the produce in 2021/22 season as compared to the one million country’s demand.

The trend forces the country to rely on wheat importation largely from Russia and Ukraine.

Currently, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war has disrupted wheat supply to the domestic market forcing prices northwards, as global demand for wheat have gone up.

Reports have it that reaching early this year, a tone of wheat was traded up to $480, which is equivalent to Sh1.104 million.

Speaking to The Citizen, Cereals and Other Produce Board’s (CPB) director general Anselm Moshi said the government spent Sh530 billion annually for wheat importation annually.

“The government is sensitizing farmers to cultivate improved wheat seeds from the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute,” he told The Citizen at the ongoing Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair (DITF).

He said 210 tonnes of seeds that would be distributed to farmers has been ordered from Zambia in order to boost local crop production.

Sources within the government said that plans were afoot to increase land for wheat cultivation from 100,000 hectares to 400,000 hectares, an increase by 300 percent.

Furthermore, reports say that over $66 million, about Sh151.8 billion, would be poured into research and development in the next three years, while distributing 55,000 tonnes of improved wheat seeds to farmers.

“The government will also address the challenge of post-harvest losses and strengthen trading systems in order to promote the crop that was abandoned by Tanzania farmers,” according to sources.

“With the new focus, the government hopes to increase wheat production, reduce reliance on the imports and provide more jobs to the locals,” adds the source within the government.

Dr Moshi said CBT has engaged over 6,000 wheat farmers in cereals farming including wheat, noting that through outlined measures, hopes are high that wheat production will increase, import reliance will be reduced and more jobs will be created for the youth.

He said CPB was expected to build Sh20.5-billion wheat processing factories in Dar es Salaam, Mbeya and Mwanza regions.

However, tabling the 2022/23 budget in Parliament, Agriculture minister Hussein Bashe said Sh750 million was allocated for research and wheat production in the 2021/22 fiscal Year.

He said Tari collected 11 wheat samples that were cultivated in the country for research purposes, especially for measuring the content of gluten in order to provide advice on the suitable types.

“The six types including Lumbesa, Mbayuwayu, Chiriku, Sifa, Kariege and Riziki C1 have shown to have over 10 percent gluten content which is required for baking. Those are the ones that will be produced by farmers who have entered contracts with importers,” he told the Budget House.

According to him, Tari has also trained extension officers and 1,085 farmers in Karatu, Monduli, Siha and Hanang’ districts on the best practices of wheat production.

Furthermore, he said the ministry through CPB has entered into contracts with 264 farmers in Siha, Karatu, Monduli and Hanang’ districts to purchase the produce that will be produced by farmers at a minimum price of Sh800 per kilogramme.

He said CPB has given 210 tonnes of improved seeds to the said farmers as well as connecting them with financial institutions in order to access loans for procurement of inputs and fertilizers.