Arusha — THE government intends to spend two billion/- to purchase a new aircraft as well as repair the existing, but grounded plane to undertake aerial crop spraying applications for the Arusha based, Plant Health Service Department.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Mr Mohammed Muya stated here that the plant protection unit located at Tengeru in Meru District, has for years been depending on other international organizations in conducting aerial crop-dusting.
"Due to lack of aircraft units to perform the aerial applications in agriculture, we have been compelled to hire planes from the International Red Locust and Desert Locust Control Centres in Africa especially the Ndola (Zambia) based units in order to assist Tanzania perform its own crop dusting exercises whenever the situation calls for it," said Mr Muya in Arusha over the weekend.
The Permanent Secretary revealed that the government was spending more than 800 million/- annually for crop protection and agricultural pests and diseases control programmes as precautionary strategies to ensure that the country's agricultural produce exports met stringent international standards.
"This budget of 0.8 billion/- however is only for operational costs and does not include the procurement of chemicals such as herbicide or pesticide, that may entail additional expenses," said Mr Muya.
The Arusha Plant Health Services Department (Kilimoanga) at Tengeru is the country's main crop disease control centre which is also serving as the National Armyworm Forecasting Services Centre; the unit also runs a special "Agricultural Services" hangar at the Arusha Airport in Kisongo area.