Can Dakawa area in Morogoro Region be transformed into a rice hub the same way Kibaigwa is a maize hub in Dodoma? Better late than never, the American people through the US Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) recently highlighted the Global Economic Statecraft Day in Morogoro.
The day was marked at Dakawa where Feed the Future a US government global hunger and food security initiative aims at breaking the cycle of poverty and hunger. The event focused on the contributions being made by US diplomats and development professionals towards improving economies around the world.
The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton launched the Economic Statecraft agenda last year. She recognises that global leadership rests on a foundation of economic prosperity and cooperation. "As such, we are working with our foreign partners to put economics at the forefront of our foreign policy and to develop economic solutions to our shared strategic challenges."
The US Embassy in Tanzania is part of a network of 1,000 economic officers attached to US embassies and consulates around the world, working in a world where economic strength matters more than ever. Many people do concur that whether business people or diplomats, Americans or Tanzanians, the interdependent global economy means we have a shared stake in prosperity.
The focus that day in Morogoro was on Dakawa a rich land where an irrigation project under the UWAWAKUDA association is being implemented. The Dakawa Irrigation Scheme supports over 2,000 small holder rice farmers and their families. The Uwawakuda water users' Association has a membership of 954 smallholder farmer members collaborates closely with Feed the Future to rehabilitate the Dakawa Pump Station and improve irrigation in the area.
At the site journalists toured the irrigation canal and a rice paddy for demonstration. According to the project Deputy Team Leader, Dr David Nyange, Feed the Future's efforts prioritise the economic development of Tanzanian farmers through collaborative efforts between the US and Tanzanian governments and stakeholders in agriculture. He said that it is possible to transform Morogoro into a rice hub since the region is blessed with fertile land and water sources.
He said Feed the Future in Dakawa is helping farmers adapt new technologies using best agronomic practices. Commenting on potential international market opportunities, Mr Nyange said that it was important for the farmers to engage in large scale production using uniform technology so as to get good yields that can be marketed.
For example, if the Dakawa scheme takes off it is possible to satisfy the demands of both the local and international markets. "When one exports to international market sit is crucial to be able to meet the minimum tonnage that will be transported by ship," he said. An exporter Assad Ghalib said that for example a viable international grain export cargo will require 20,000 tonnes of grain for the shipment to be cost effective.
He argues that for an effective regional trade at least the consignment on the transport should be 5,000 tonnes. Failure to meet these quantities will hinder trade, he said. The Economic Officer at the US Embassy, Mr Tabari Dossett stressed that his government was committed to promoting growth of its business and encourages foreign businesses to invest and create jobs in the country.
The diplomat said that "We are making it a central diplomatic priority to level the playing field by promoting an open, free, transparent and fair economic system around the world. The US is updating her foreign policy priorities to ensure that they reflect the growing importance of economic power and cooperation.
Feed the Future scheme at Dakawa and other economic support programmes are good examples of how the US government is working with local entrepreneurs to address regional issues of poverty, trade and food security. As part of the support the US is also mindful that many of their greatest security challenges depend substantially on economic variables. Fusing economics and foreign policy is the core of what Secretary Clinton described recently as 'smart power.'