16 January 2013

Tanzania: Science Ministry Pledges Kilimo Kwanza Support

KILIMO Kwanza initiative is one of the priorities of the Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology in its endeavour to contribute to the country's social economic development.

"We have already decided to direct the Ministry's resources to areas with huge positive impact to people's life and Kilimo Kwanza is one of them," the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr Florens Turuka, told journalists yesterday in Dar es Salaam.

Kilimo Kwanza is a government's initiative which seeks to attain green revolution in Tanzania by bringing in mechanized agriculture, irrigation projects, adding value to crops and other measures. He said that the Ministry had decided to commit part of its resources in research works that seek to develop the country's agriculture and specifically Kilimo Kwanza initiative.

"We have decided to use the government's funds allocated for research and development to create a strong human resource base that will help develop the initiative among other sectors," Dr Turuka said. He mentioned some of the areas focused by his Ministry for more research as developing agriculture implements and markets for agriculture produce.

"You need marketing to be successful in agriculture," he said, adding "you can have enough production but it will mean nothing if markets are unreliable." He noted that is why the Ministry was focusing on funding research works that seek to create reliable markets for agriculture products so that people engaging in the sector could benefit.

He mentioned other potential areas focused for research as improving the agricultural value chain and value addition. Statistics show that the high- income countries add up to USD 180 of value by processing one ton of agriculture produce but developing countries add only 40 US dollars to one ton.

Whereas 98 per cent of agriculture production in industrialized countries undergoes processing, only 30 per cent is processed in developing countries. "The value addition area is the very important for researching... a priority is given toward this endeavour," he emphasized.

Experts say that Tanzania's agriculture is dominated by smallholder farmers who contribute 50 per cent of the GDP, 75 per cent of the export earnings and support over 80 per cent of the population. They claim that about 80 per cent of Tanzanian farmers do not plant improved and certified seeds but rely on their own local cultivars and that improved seeds are critical requirements in any modern agriculture.

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