Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

1 September 2014

Tanzania: Govt for New Monitoring System in Agriculture

MODERN technology use will help the country address challenges of agriculture production caused by climate change, Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Christopher Chiza has said.

The minister who is attending an African Green Revolution Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said the technology known as Vital Signs will help the government plan and implement agriculture production.

"Climate change will continue to put pressure on our farmers, and that is why we have developed this resilience plan," said Chiza. "Using the information that Vital Signs provides to help us implement our plan gives us the advantage of making more informed decisions.

Together, we can serve as a model for other East African countries as they develop their own climate resilience strategies," he added. Vital Signs provides data for Tanzania's Pioneering Climate Resilience Plan. Agriculture is a critical sector for the country's economy as it is the mainstay of most livelihoods and the generator behind a large percentage of GDP. "In Tanzania, it contributes up to 25 per cent of gross domestic product and 30 per cent of exports. But the effects of climate change - rising temperatures, erosion, diminished access to fresh water, loss of pollinators - threaten important growth in this sector, as well as the lives of smallholder farmers," the Ministry said in a statement. At the Addis Ababa event, the MAFC will introduce its Agriculture Climate Resilience Plan, presenting a strategy for sustainable agricultural development in the face of climate change. The strategy includes risk assessment, key investments and implementation. "Vital Signs data and indicators will support the implementation of the Tanzanian strategy, and are essential tools to help policy makers in Africa and around the world make informed decisions about pursuing agricultural intensification sustainably," the statement added. Vital Signs, a monitoring system led by Conservation International (CI), is co-hosting the event. "Vital Signs was designed to help people be more resilient - better adapt, grow and thrive - while dealing with the mounting threats from climate change," said Sandy Andelman, CI's Senior Vice President and Executive Director of Vital Signs. "Its use to support Tanzania on the national level can help small-holder farmers maintain their livelihoods, and allow Tanzania's agriculturally based economy to address the challenges of climate variability," Ms Andelman said. A real life example of a local farmer struggling with climate variability is Mama George Kimbawala who grows rice, farms fish and tends beehives in Mang'ula B Village in the Kilombero Valley. Mrs Kimbawala depends on healthy ecosystems to support her family, but is finding that unpredictable rain patterns are threatening her way of life. Already working in Tanzania and Ghana and starting in Uganda, Vital Signs has proven to be a vital tool for CI in collaborating and partnering with governments, other nongovernmental organizations, the academic community, the private sector and key international partners in guiding agricultural development that is sustainable for people and nature.

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