President Samia Suluhu Hassan fittingly launched Tanzania’s fertiliser subsidy programme on Farmers Day earlier this week.
Under the programme, farmers will enjoy close to 45 percent in subsidies for various types of fertilisers they will buy for use on their farms.
This is indeed a bold step by the government since the importance of fertilisers cannot be overemphasised.
According to plant nutrition experts, without fertilisers, nature struggles to replenish nutrients in the soil.
Hence, when crops are harvested, important nutrients are removed from the soil.
So, if the soil is not replenished with nutrients through fertilising, crop yields will deteriorate over time.
As Tanzania seeks to become Africa’s number one granary, heavy subsidisation is a necessary step towards improving productivity per acreage as farmers set their minds towards commercialisation of their farming.
However, it is crucial to thoroughly educate farmers, especially in remote areas, on the requirements they need to fulfil to qualify for the subsidies.
All efforts must be exhausted to see to it that these peasants are registered and guided without being taken advantage of by some unscrupulous people.
However, while all this is going on, it is also crucial that agriculture experts in the country help farmers to explore the various options they can use to boost productivity in their farms.
These alternatives may include best practices in the use of natural fertilisers in the form of bone meal, blood meal, fish meal, manures, greens and, rock phosphate, alfalfa meal, kelp, and compost.
Similarly, such practices as crop rotation, bush fallowing, no-till farming, growing cover crops, use of manures, use of mulching and weed control are some of the organic measures that help to preserve fertility of the soil.
The benefits of using alternative organic fertilisers are immense, including ensuring that health of the land remains intact, while producing food crops that are healthy.
All in all, replenishing soil key nutrients must be maintained in a sustainable way.
ADDRESS VAGARIES OF CLIMATE
Climate change impacts are worrying, and need effective action to save the livelihood of millions of Tanzanians.
Vagaries of the weather leave thousands of livestock dead and crops destroyed, causing colossal losses to farmers. This does not augur well for any endeavours made to alleviate poverty in Tanzania and elsewhere across Africa.
The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has been asked to support indigenous communities, which bear the brunt of climate change.
Certainly, the communities need scientific solutions to emerge from their traditional ways. Currently, they largely depend on Mother Nature to survive; but they are increasingly falling victim to climate change by human activities and other causes thousands of miles away.
Land conflicts have also increased in recent years because of severe climate change-related impacts. These have to be addressed, and Unesco has a role to play.