TANZANIA and by extension Africa, is perennially threatened by famine. However, the problem of food shortages should not be as commonplace as it is reported, especially for a country like Tanzania which is tipped to become a model for African green revolution.
With food security now on the global agenda, the world is turning to African agriculture as the answer to the question of how we feed the future.
During the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) held in Arusha last month, among the issues that were addressed was the need to invest in the continent's potential for rapid and sustainable agricultural growth.
The forum decided that in order to come up with concrete action plans for developing the continent's agricultural sector, smallholder farmers have a crucial role to play and thus should be at the centre of all key decisions.
Recent reports that the government has set record producer prices for maize in Makambako and Mbozi districts are not only commendable but also encouraging. The move is expected to ensure that the country has enough grain reserves while at the same time increase the income of smallholder farmers.
But still more needs to be done to ensure that Tanzania has food security throughout the year and in the not so distant future becomes a model of the African green revolution. We should never leave it until it is too late to take action.
One of the major problems that also lead to food insecurity in the country is poor infrastructure. Feeder roads to areas where food is produced in abundance are in poor state and are at times impassable, especially during harvest seasons.
In improving the country's infrastructure, priority should be given to areas that are basically known for being food baskets. As a mainly agrarian society, it is to our detriment that we keep ignoring the infrastructure to such areas.
The other problem seems to be cooperatives that keep making losses. As a result, the government is forced to bail them out year in year out. The funds spent on paying cooperatives' debts would be better spent buying produce from smallholder farmers at competitive prices.
This will in turn improve their welfare, boost their morale and enhance efficiency. Most importantly, they will no longer see the need to sell their food crops to private buyers and that would ensure food security as stakeholders work to achieve the green revolution.