Agricultural sector is vital for ensuring food security and alleviation of rural poverty. Emergence of agricultural crop pests and diseases causes socio-economic implications in the country.
The Controller and Auditor General (CAG), Prof Mussa Assad, decided to conduct a performance audit to assess the extent to which the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries and the President's Office-Regional Administration and Local Government have implemented strategies for managing agricultural crop pests and diseases outbreaks in the country.
Staff Writer FAUSTINE KAPAMA reports... IN Tanzania, the agricultural sector is central to sustainable development of the country as it contributes to almost 24 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Equally, agriculture is a leading sector that employs majority of its citizens, approximately 75 percent of the whole population and the majority of them are residing in the rural areas. The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, through Plant Health Services has the role of combating agricultural crop pests and diseases by making sure that surveillance systems and control mechanisms are being strengthened.
Likewise, the ministry ensures that pest free areas are being protected from introduction of pests and sanitary and phytosanitary, quarantine and plant inspectorate services are strengthened so as to ultimately increase in agricultural production, productivity and profitability to farmers. The management of agricultural crop pests and diseases outbreaks in Tanzania has not adequately reduced the impact caused by the outbreaks.
Furthermore, a research conducted by Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI) in September, 2015 in the same area of agricultural crop pests and diseases indicated that yield loss caused by parthenium weed was 30 percent for sorghum and 40 percent on maize.
The outbreak of crop pests and diseases might cause up to 100 percent loss of the yield if no measures are taken. Recently, disease outbreak which attacked cassava crop was reported in Chato, Geita Region, Tarime in Mara Region, and some parts of Mwanza Region. The reported diseases include: cassava mosaic "Batobato" and cassava brown michirizi kahawia.
These two types of diseases which affect cassava have reduced the level of food security in the areas as most of the affected farmers depended on cassava for their daily food consumption. The diseases resulted in huge losses of crops in the respective areas. For example, out of seven million metric-tonnes produced annually; four million tonnes were lost due to cassava mosaic disease.
In Kagera region, Banana Xanthomonas Wilt (BXW) disease commonly known as mnyauko bakteri was confirmed in January, 2006 in Muleba District. The disease led to loss of revenues among farmers. During the audit period, the outbreak had spread to Bukoba, Misenyi, Biharamulo and Karagwe Districts. Consequently, about 80,000 banana mats (app. 80 ha of bananas) were uprooted.
In Tarime BXW was confirmed in February, 2007 and about 600 mats of bananas, approximately 1 ha of bananas were uprooted in just one subvillage. Mathematically, this was calculated as follows: each mat could produce up to 2.5 bunches in one year. One bunch was sold on average of 2,500/= in 2006, therefore taking into consideration affected banana mats in Kagera, it represents the loss of 500m/-in one year.
In Tarime the loss was approximately 3.75m/- in 2007 which was realised in just one sub-village. However, for the market value at Kagera Region during the audit period was 10,000 per 1 bunch of bananas. In this regard, the loss could be 2 billion in a year. Approximately 145,000 ha were surveyed by airplane. Locust populations at suitable target densities were located and 22,000 ha were treated.
The control operations conducted at the Iku wetland in Katavi National Park with the bio-control product on almost 10,000 ha. The achievement was at least 70 per cent reduction of the locust population in July, 2009.
Pest research conducted by REPOA in 2013 indicated that despite the increased cereal crops' production at national level to about 3.9 million tons per year, still technologies used for harvesting, processing and storage were poor.
This led to post-harvest loss of 1.6 million tons on average per year. This means that a total of 40 percent of the annual national production of cereals is lost due to post harvest loss.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries has been undertaking several efforts to curb the problems caused by crop pests and diseases. Some of the efforts done were to engage the Agricultural Research Institutes to conduct researches on curbing agricultural crop pests and diseases problems.
Likewise, the Agricultural Research Institute conducted trainings on managing agricultural crop pests and diseases and provided seeds of resistant varieties to farmers.
Another effort to deal with pest's management was that, the government decided to become a member of the International Organizations dealing with Locust Management. Being a member of the Organizations, the government contributed a membership fee in order to obtain services from the organizations, in case of Quelea quelea or locust outbreak in the country.
Nevertheless, problems of agricultural crop pests and diseases outbreaks in Tanzania are increasing and new pests and diseases are continuing to be reported in the country. In this regard, the Controller and Auditor General (CAG), Prof Mussa Assad, decided to carry-out a performance audit on the implementation of strategies for managing agricultural crop pests and diseases outbreaks in Tanzania by the ministry. Prof Assad's finds in his report that agricultural crop pests and diseases outbreaks were a threat to farmers and nearly all regions in Tanzania were affected.
The number of Local Government Authorities affected ranges from four (4) to 66 and the area infested ranges from 81 hectares to 200,000 hectares. However, he says, the amount lost due to grain loss in 2005/2006 was approximately 240bn/-. Likewise, impact of Quelea quelea was high in 2014 where by 1344 ha were affected causing a loss of almost 4,704 tons which is approximately 4.704bn/- losses.
Furthermore, the CAG says, from January 2014 to November 2014, about 2,964,240 banana plants were reported to have been infected with Banana Xanthomonas wilt. According to him, in order to prevent further spread of the disease, about 2,877,653 banana plants with monetary value of 28,776,530,000/- were uprooted, which is actually a loss of incomes to farmers.
He further finds inadequate Controlling Mechanisms for the Management of Agricultural Crop Pests and Diseases Outbreaks in Tanzania Surveillance for the identification of agricultural crop pests and diseases outbreak.
Surveillance for the Identification of Agricultural Crop Pests and Diseases Outbreaks was not done efficiently and most f the Local Government Authorities visited did not regularly do forecasting of pests at the same time there was an absence of pheromone traps in some visited authorities.
Moreover, the CAG shows in the report that the agricultural implementation reports that were sent to President's Office-Regional Administration and Local Government, through Regional Secretariat to a large extent did not cover aspect of agricultural crop pests and disease outbreaks.
The audit team also discovered that the Ministry of Agriculture, President's Office-Regional Administration and Local Government did not have common plans on how to deal with outbreak incidences, despite the fact that all of them were experiencing similar outbreak of pests or diseases.
He recommends the Ministry of Agriculture, has to emphasize on conducting surveillance for early identification of pests and diseases to minimize yield loss and cost of controlling outbreaks and establish mechanisms that will improve sharing of outbreak information with President's Office.
It should also establish mechanisms that will facilitate smooth monitoring and inspection at the entry points to prevent illegal entrance of plants and plant related materials and mechanism that will coordinate smooth intervention on management of Agricultural Crop Pests and Diseases outbreaks.
On the President's Office- Regional Administration and Local Government, the CAG recommends to strengthen mechanisms that will improve sharing of outbreak information with Ministry of Agriculture.
It should ensure that Local Government Authorities incorporate the aspect of management of agricultural pests and diseases outbreaks in their strategic plans and come-up with strategies that will improve and influence adequate implementation of data keeping and sharing.