Dar es Salaam. On Sunday, November 28, 2021, the minister for Agriculture, Dr Adolph Mkenda, presented a report to journalists on the development of agriculture in the past 60 years.
In the report, Dr Mkenda explains how the government has involved the youth in the agriculture sector - and its plans for taking the sector to the next level in the next 60 years.
The following is an abridged version of Dr Mkenda’s report on the youth, the future of agriculture, the place of agricultural research and development, and training:
As part of efforts to ensure that the youth get involved in agricultural value chain, the government has worked with the private sector to kick-start various programmes and projects. These include the Farmer to Farmer (IESC F2F) Tanzania project that was implemented between October 2018 and February 2020.
The project involved 3000 youth from Dar es Salaam, Iringa, Njombe, Mbeya, Mwanza, Kagera, Karagwe, Zanzibar, Coast and Kilimanjaro regions. Twelve experts from abroad came to work with the youth. About Sh150 million were spent on the project that also involved 20 Host Organisations, six of them being banks and Saccos, farmers and exporters.
There was also the East Africa Youth Inclusion Programme (EAYIP), a five year endeavour that started from 2016 and ended in 2021. The programme is being implemented and coordinated by Heifer International in four regions of Songwe, Mbeya, Njombe and Iringa. The programme reached 10,300 - about 4,120 of them women, and 6,180 being men between the age of 15 and 24.
The Youth Agriculture and Marketing project that is coordinated by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is implemented in Singida, Dodoma, and Morogoro and Coast regions. The project aims at bringing the youth into irrigation agriculture through supplying them with irrigation pumps. The project has reached 2,080 young men and women.
The Sokoine University Graduate Entrepreneurs Cooperative project has also facilitated the training of 1,000 graduates in the Morogoro and Mkongo camps. At least 225 graduates were sent to Israel, and 87 to the USA, for training.
District councils have also allocated four per cent of their budgets for loans to youth groups.
Greenhouse Technology project for the youth. The ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the Prime Minister’s Office (Labour, Youth, Employment and Disabled) is implementing the greenhouse project to enable the youth engage in entrepreneurship. In the 2019/20 financial year, the government created 84 greenhouses in 81 district councils in 12 regions, involving 8,700 youth.
To encourage the youth to engage in agriculture, the government has allocated 217,882.36 hectares in 48 district councils - and other districts are expected to allocate more land.
Challenges facing agriculture
Despite government’s efforts the agriculture sector still faces challenges. Some of these challenges include; outbreaks of diseases, climate change, financing for agricultural projects and inadequate rural transport infrastructure.
Other challenges include low productivity, dependency on rainfall, expensive agricultural machines and mechanization, land conflicts and Covid-19 pandemic. The government is taking various steps to solve these challenges as stipulated in various policy statements, strategies and programmes.
Agriculture in the next 60 years
The government has put in place plans and strategies to transform agriculture in the next 60 years. These are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals-2030, National Development Vision-2025, and the Third Five-Year Development Plan (FYDP-III 2021-2025). To actualise these plans, the government has put in place various programmes including Agriculture Sector Development Programme (ASDP-II: 2017-2028). In the next 60 years, the government wants to see and agricultural sector that is modernised, with high productivity, commercialised. The government wants agriculture to ensure Tanzania’s food security and nutrition and increased contribution of agriculture in the national income. In the 2021-2081 period the government also wants; to increase productivity in strategic crops. These crops include food and commercial crops, horticultural crops and oilseeds. Irrigation will be given a priority and farmers in irrigation schemes will be incentivised by being given fertilsers, improved seeds, extension services, farming machinery, and education on better land and water uses.
The government also plans to improve markets for agricultural products to increase incomes for smallholders. To do this the government will improve inspection of quality and sanitary conditions of Tanzania’s crops and will improve the capacity of Tanzania Plant Health and Pesticide Authority (TPHPA) to enable it issue nationally recognized certifications.
The govt will also build Strategic Border Markets and Commodity Exchanges to improve markets for Tanzania’s agricultural produce.
Agricultural research and development in Tanzania started in the 1930s when research centres were established in Tumbi (1930), Mlingano (1934), Ukiriguru (1938), Ilonga (1947) and Maruku (1948). From the five research institutes at independence in 1961, the government has added 12 more These are Uyole (created in 1968), Kibaha (1970), Tengeru (1975), Makutupora (1979), Selian (1980), Dakawa (1984), Kifyulilo (1985), Hombolo (1972), Mikocheni (1996), Naliendele (1970), Ifakara (1970) and Kihinga (2018).
These research centres have made possible the availability of agricultural technology in accordance to the ecology of various areas. The centres have also helped increase productivity. Research centres have made possible the development of improved seeds. Tanzanian researchers have developed 461 seeds of cereals, legumes, oil seeds, tubers and vegetables, among others.
These seeds have high yields, can withstand climate change, and take less time to mature and are resistant to pests. Maize seeds, for example, have increased yields from 0.5 tonnes per hectare before independence to 1.5 tonnes per hectare. Rice yields have increased from 1.0 tonnes per hectare before independence to 2.3 tonnes after independence. Cassava yields have increased from 3.0 tonnes per hectare to 7.9 tonnes per hectare.
Before independence, there were no native researchers with a PhD degree; now, there are about 100. Government research centres have 55 researchers with a PhD degree, 213 with a Master’s degree, and 171 with a Bachelor’s degree.
In 20015/06, the total number researchers was 311 - a number which has increased to 439 in 2021/22: a jump of 41 percent.