MODERN farming through adoption of contemporary techniques is an essential worthy endeavour embraced by farming communities for increased yield per unit area.
Motivation for enhanced agricultural production for national food security as well as for the production of cash crops for regular earnings has been the aspiration of the country's national leadership since early days of independence.
Early catchphrases such as 'Agriculture is the economic backbone of the nation', 'Agriculture is a matter of life and death' among others focused on assurance to the availability of food to support both rural and urban population.
In the 1970s, the government provided to hundreds of villages across the regions different kinds of farm implements such as tractors and simpler farming tools like oxen/donkey-driven ploughs. Deliberate establishment of Small Industries Development Organizations (SIDO) was put in place to ensure sustainable repair and manufacture of simple tools.
Today, however, agriculture at family level continues to face a myriad of challenges ranging from hostile climatic conditions, lack of affordable farm implements and need for knowledge on farming techniques. But challenges have never been accepted as a reason for despair.
The government continues to train extension officers, deploy them to villages for implementation of both rain-fed and irrigation agricultural projects. Invitation of investors with advanced technology in agriculture is among other strategy employed by the government to revolutionize agriculture.
Green Revolution is the focus at the moment. While the National Land Policy under the Investment Promotion Act insists that non-citizens shall not be granted land unless for investment purposes, a series of related claims on land ownership without developing it has been a common cry.
Although the same document (Land Policy) states that land would be allocated to investors according to the ability to develop it with assured protection of the interests of the citizens, things have always been different and land disputes reported in different parts of the country remained a serious setback.
In the recent past, for example, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Anne Makinda, had an audience with the Ambassador of the Republic of South Korea to Tanzania, Chung H. During discussion the issue of land disputes emerged.
The session was held at the mini offices of the National Assembly in Dar es Salaam and the Ambassador was accompanied by a delegation of Korean business personalities interested in extensive investment in mining and agriculture.
Giving an example of land dispute related inconveniences, Ambassador Chung informed the Speaker that in the course of implementation of an Integrated Rural Development Project in Pangawe, in Morogoro region, land dispute hampered progress of the project.
The US Dollar 4.5 million worth project was meant to benefit farmers and residents in the project site. "The four-year project (2010 - 2013) is designed to enhance the agriculture infrastructure and develop human resources in the field of agricultural industry.
At two years of implementation farmers increased productivity seven times," explains Ambassador Chung. However, before the project matured, someone identified as an investor from South Africa launched a legal battle against the village leadership, claiming that the project area that lay fallow for decades belonged to him.
The Speaker, Anne Makinda, appeared upset as she wanted to see more of such community development projects reach a larger section of the community. She sounded resolute for her office to help make interventions and help address the challenge once and for all.
"Development partners like the Republic of Korea have a lot to share with Tanzanians. We need to attain higher levels in both agricultural and industrial production to meet international standards," Makinda explains. She has more: "We need to strike a balance between exports and imports.
At the moment we import more than what we export. The country cannot continue exporting unprocessed materials. We need processing industries for added value to products. Land disputes should not be allowed to frustrate the efforts," Speaker Makinda remarks.
She had more: "There are different areas the country can benefit through partnership with South Korea and other development partners. Serious investment can be made in forestry, fisheries, beekeeping, energy and others.
The locally available uranium can be harnessed for the benefit of the country as well," she said. The Ambassador commended the local residents for enthusiasm to the projects underway and teamwork spirit shown to experts in irrigation, livestock and agriculture who worked very closely with the members of the community willing to transform to modern farming.
The Ambassador pledges for continued cooperation asking the government to open an office (embassy) in Seoul, the capital of South Korea. At the meeting was the Member of Parliament, Abdulkarim Shah, Mafia (CCM) who is also the Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee, Natural Resources, Land and Environment.
He admits land disputes among other problems are frustrating development in agriculture. "Enough of land disputes. Serious intervention is necessary. Apart from the central government, village land committees have a significant role to play as well," MP Shah observes.
The MP added: "The parliamentary committee will present the matter to the Parliamentary Steering/Leadership Committee for appropriate measures. In some places production process has greatly been affected due to land disputes."
"There is no formal hierarchical arrangement for dispute settlement. Most of the disputes result from multiple allocations, poor records keeping, lack of or failure of laid down regulations in allocations, acquisitions and revocations," reads part of the National Land Policy document.
The policy concludes that land hoarding will be discouraged by strict enforcement of development conditions and by the use of local by-laws, planning and land use regulations. Other projects worth over US Dollar 22 million implemented through the South Korean International Development Agency (KOICA) between 2006 and 2013 include ICT education at the College of Engineering and Technology, University of Dar es Salaam (US Dollar 2 million) and Ground Water Project in Dodoma and Shinyanga regions (US Dollar 1.5 million).
Others are the Irrigation Facilities and Modernization of Farms in Zanzibar and Morogoro (US Dollar 1.7 million), Agro-Processing training Centre in Zanzibar (US Dollar 2.3 million), Diagnostic Services Improvement of Health Centres in Dar es Salaam (US Dollar 4.5 million) and Modernization of TRA Customs Administration (US Dollar 3.26 million).