Dodoma — THE Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Water has said Tanzania has produced an extra 23 per cent of food per person in the last season, ensuring enough food to feed over 55 million population.
The Committee's endorsement follows government's thorough assessment conducted in July 2016 indicating that there is an average surplus of 23 per cent, made up of 13 per cent cereals and 40 per cent noncereals. However, the Committee observes that even amid such food surplus, there were still pockets within the country with serious food shortages.
The committee also says "lack of appropriate mechanism to ensure a rationed supply of food to least producing areas is to blame." Dr Mary Nagu, the Committee Chairperson, says that some farmers "were found in a painful paradox" of deciding whether or not to continue farming. She also explained that during the last seasons, the government had repeatedly given contradictory orders regarding food export.
According to Dr Nagufarmers need markets, especially corn producers still suffer from lack of markets for their produce -- besides government efforts in tasking the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) and other bodies to secure markets for the farmers. She noted that her committee was worried that such sharp despair by farmers and untimelyagro inputs pose high risk for lack of enough food in the coming days.
She also says that her committee was satisfied that the government was making efforts to ensure adequate food supply. Citing the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB), Nagu noted that farmers were facing many challenges, notably access to loans.
The government now has plans to beef-up the committee's financial institution - by at least 800bn/- this year alone. Commenting on the committee's report, Special Seats MP Swale Semesi (Chademasays both the NFRA and agricultural research institutions weren't adequately funded to handle farmers' challenges.
She advised that the government should take measures to enhance agricultural productivity, and that agricultural research institutions must be given sufficient funds to address challenges facing farmers. Dr Christine Ishengoma (Special Seats, CCM) was particularly concerned that only 1.6 per cent of the farmers across the country practise irrigationfarming, and urged the government to improve its irrigation department, partly, by increasing the number of farmers depending on irrigation farming