Dar es Salaam, Tanzania — The government of Tanzania has said that there is unsatisfactory pace of growth in agriculture sector at 4% for a period of 10 years making agriculture fail to contribute heavily to the national economy.
The Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Ms Sofia Kaduma said during an agricultural meeting in Dar es Salaam that there is need to invest more in agriculture in order to make sector contribute heavily to the national economy and uplift the majority from poverty.
"We need to invest more in irrigation infrastructure in terms of irrigation and research if the agriculture initiatives are to be realized"Ms Kaduma said.
However, the deputy permanent secretary said there was some slight improvements in irrigation to 480, 382 ha in 2012 as compared 264,388 ha that were being irrigated in 2006 while at the same time seeing the extension services improving to 7,974 ha in 2012 from 3,379 ha in 2006.
She also pointed out that there has been an improvement in both the agricultural inputs to seeds, fertilizer subsidies schemes and access of such inputs to small scale farmers in recent years especially with the formulation of agricultural Kilimo Kwanza initiatives in 2008-2009 financial year.
The deputy PS also pointed out that the government efforts to introduce the Southern Agriculture Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT), a unique public - private partnership agricultural transformation initiative was mainly aimed at transforming agricultural areas into productivity while ensuring food security as well as exporting that will lead into gaining foreign currency as well.
Kaduma stressed that the concept of SAGCOT was to support partnership between small scale holder farmers and investors by adding value to their products and finding markets for them.
She pointed out that the government was keen in as far as issues of land is concerned and has already earmarked the land for investment in order to control and refrain from land conflicts and also removal of taxes for key agriculture inputs that may scare away investors.
The PS said that SAGCOT together with the coming up of Agriculture Development Bank to be realized later this year would aim at making sure that small scale farmers have access to finances in order to improve the agriculture sector in the country and make them grow into larger scale farmers.
The Chairperson of SACGOT, Mr. Salum Shamte said the need for efforts to be directed on agriculture while noting that there hasn't been yet the commitment of making sure that agriculture attains a 10% budget allocation as per the Maputo (Mozambique) deliberations made by African heads of state to improve food security in the region.
"I hear that the current budget allocation on agriculture has risen up to around 9% in 2012/2013 financial comparing to the previous financial year allocations of 3.2%, though it is still below the 10% Maputo agreement" the SAGCOT chairperson noted.
He however noted that in the recent years there have been some improvements in the production to some agricultural products like beef, cashew nuts, cotton, tobacco, and pyrethrum and also the importation of tractors or power tillers have improved to 13,000 imports by the year 2011 from 256 importations in 200.
The SAGCOT's chairperson also pointed out that, SAGCOT has potential of 7.5 million ha of land suitable for agricultural production with an access to rail, electricity and water resources while mentioning the Rufiji Basin as being one amongst them.
"We need to look on how we link small scale farmers to financial institutions; markets access as well as empowering them "said SAGCOT Chairman while adding that Tanzania was still importing much in agricultural input."
He stressed that the current measures to improve Tanzania Zambia Railway (Tazara), both the airports expansion in Dar es Salaam and Mbeya including the construction of birth 13 and 14 at the Dar Port would improve the SAGCOT agricultural exports from the country.
He said that by 2030 when the project comes to fully implementation will aim to profit 350,000 hectors of land in profitable production where 420,000 new employments will have been created while 10,000 commercial small scale farmers being uplifted and making 2,400,000 million Tanzanians moving out of poverty which in turn would enable the government get more revenues from agriculture and grow its economy.