The government has a dream to transform the agriculture sector. And, the dream is fast becoming a reality, thanks to massive infrastructure development, the government is undertaking to uplift the key sector.
Tanzania, like other countries in the world, has committed to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2 – to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030.
Agriculture has always been a prominent feature on the country’s agenda to avert incidence of food and nutrition insecurity and increase the capacity to export the surplus.
In a meeting with editors in Dodoma recently, Agriculture Minister Mr Hussein Bashe, expressed the government’s resolve and commitment to ensure the country attains its agenda 10/30.
The government’s aim is to achieve more than 10 per cent growth for the agriculture sector by 2030. Other goals are ensuring food security and supply to cater for domestic demand and export, increasing the value of export of agricultural produce from 1.2 billion US dollars to more than 5 billion US dollars by 2030.
The government intends to increase sales of horticulture produce from current 750 million US dollars per annum to 2 billion US dollars per annum by 2030 and this will largely rely on stable and reliable irrigation infrastructures.
Minister Bashe underlined the government’s zeal to stimulate productive agriculture, which he is well aware will require massive investment in terms of infrastructure and financing.
“Productive agriculture is crucial and it requires extensive and sustainable research, reliable agriculture inputs, extension services, suitable infrastructure, financing and effective public, private partnership.
“Productivity also demands for reliable capital, guarantees, subsidies, stakeholders’ engagement, off takers, support from agriculture ministry and support from financial institutions,” said the minister.
With this objective among others, the government has come out full throttle to transform agriculture sector with allocation of budget going up four folds, much of the amount going to finance new irrigation projects, provision of fertiliser subsidy, controlling post-harvest loss, construction of warehouses, engage youth in block farming, construction of biological control unit in Kibaha, Coast Region and securing reliable markets for agricultural produce among others.
Budget allocation for the agriculture sector has increased to a whopping 954bn/- for the financial year 2022/2023 up from 294bn/-, which was allocated during the previous fiscal year.
Minister Bashe insisted that a large chunk of the budget is directed towards improving infrastructures and already some are taking shape, including a state-of-the- art Post-harvest Centre of Excellence for Grains at Mtanana B, Kongwa District in Dodoma and Chinangali Block Farming in the same region.
Minister Bashe said that the post-harvest centre project which is being set up just a few kilometres away from Kibaigwa township, well known for maize and groundnuts production, will cost 18bn/- upon completion.
This project is being executed as part of the financing the government had received from the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP) toward the cost of Tanzania Initiatives for Preventing Aflatoxin Contamination (TANIPAC) Project.
The TANIPAC project has three components — infrastructure development for prevention of pre- and post-harvest contamination, awareness creation and institutional strengthening as well as project coordination and management.
According to the minister, lot one of the Mtanana B project includes construction of a market centre, which contains administration building, market administration building, warehouse, market shed building, public toilet, external works and electrical, ICT and mechanical installations.
Lot II includes construction of an agro-processing facility, containing milling plant, metal silos, warehouse, workshop building, public toilet, external works as well as electrical, ICT and mechanical installations.
Lot III involves construction of a technology transfer centre, comprising a training centre building, hostel, laundry, canteen, residential building, guard house, external works as well as electrical, ICT and mechanical installations.
He said such facilities will be set up in various other parts of the country, objective being to check post-harvest loss that currently stands at 35 per cent to 5 per cent by 2030.
“This is why the government is investing heavily in infrastructure,” he said, adding that the initiative will boost processing of both cash and food crops, so as to enhance the value chain.
Currently, the country’s capacity to process agricultural produce stands at only 10 per cent but with the initiatives being taken by the government, such figure will swell up to 50 per cent come 2030.
He said by working jointly with the private sector, the country expects to cut importation of sugar to zero by 2025 from the current 20 per cent. The same is expected in other products—edible oil, wheat and fertiliser which its importation currently stands at 60, 90 and 90 per cent respectively will drop to 30, 50 and zero respectively by 2030.
The same is being done in irrigation projects, where minister Bashe said several schemes are well underway and will soon be accomplished.
Over the years, the irrigation schemes in some parts of the country have created the necessary resilience to rainfall variability, mitigation against drought and climate change and enhanced food security through all year crop production.
Yet, the country has not explored irrigation to its full potential but this is changing, following the government’s commitment to invest heavily in the irrigation sector, to increase agricultural productivity.
According to Mr Bashe, budget allocation for irrigation has been increased from 57bn/- in the financial year 2021/2022 to 416bn/- in the current fiscal year.
Out of the 416bn/- allocated for irrigation, a total of 361bn/- will be raised from internal sources of revenues, he explained.
Explaining the implementation of the ministry’s strategic activities in the 2022/2023 financial year, minister Bashe said construction of 25 new irrigation schemes covering 53,234 hectares and 14 dams to harvest rainy water are well on track. The dams will have the capacity of storing 131,535,000 cubic metres.
He said by December last year, 21 contracts were signed, of which 18 were specific for irrigation schemes and construction of nine water dams.
The projects will cover 12 districts in seven regions and are expected to create 121,059 jobs. The total cost of the projects according to the minister stands at 182bn/- upon completion
“The 182bn/- earmarked for the 21 contracts represent 51 per cent of funds allocated in the budget for irrigation during the current financial year,” Mr Bashe stated
Contractors are already executing the projects, while process to secure contractors for the remaining four irrigations schemes and five dams were on going
The minister also said rehabilitation of 20 irrigation schemes out of 30 covering 16,646 ha is ongoing, while at least 1,659 employment opportunities have been created by the projects.
“Implementation of the irrigation schemes are expected to increase production of rice to 97,300 tonnes of rice,” he explained.
The minister explained further that implementation of the irrigation schemes in total will cover 26,700 hectares. He added that plans also involved expanding the irrigation area to 8.5 million hectares equivalent to 50 per cent of the total area cultivated in the country by 2030.
He insisted, however, that the efforts that the government is taking to transform agriculture is based on attaining long term benefits, meaning the fruits will not be realised in a fortnight.
“All the efforts we are making now, to transform this sector are geared towards having a long-term impact in the economy of the country and for farmers. We want to commercialise our small holder farmers, we want them to reap big from their engagement in agriculture, unlike now, where their output and earnings remain meager,” insisted minister Bashe.
According to the Third Five-Year Development Plan (FYDP-III) the country intends to employ effective application of science, technology and innovation to improve productivity and yields in the agriculture sector.
Given the structure of Tanzanian economy, it is undoubtedly that the growth of the sector is directly proportional to socioeconomic development, prosperity and poverty reduction.
In order to increase productivity and efficiency in the agricultural sector, FYDP III will focus on the following areas; Crops: The prioritised products are maize, rice, cotton, cashewnut, tea, coffee, tobacco, sisal, palm, wheat, soybean, cocoa, cassava, sugarcane, horticulture and sunflower.