THE government is gearing up to steamroll an ambitious five year agricultural sector transformation plan focused on four areas. Speaking in Parliament yesterday, the Minister for Agriculture, Dr Charles Tizeba, mentioned them as close monitoring and control of proper use of renewable water services, land, environment alongside increasing improvement and construction of irrigation schemes and infrastructures.
He was tabling ministerial budget estimates amounting to 170bn/- for recurrent and development expenditure for the 2018/19 financial year compared to 214bn/- of the preceding one. The minister said the transformation to be undertaken under the second phase of the National Agricultural Sector Development Plan, includes changing of farmers' mindsets.
Dr Tizeba said overhauling the operations and handling of agricultural issues would be among the highlights of the initiative. He named the four areas as increasing production and productivity, an eye being cast on how farmers run their farming and business.
The mindset revolution would be given critical attention, he said, focused on aspects like switching from the hand to mouth perception to large scale farming. This, he said, would improve farmers' welfare and the national economy at large.
Dr Tizeba further explained that the envisaged new system would oversee agricultural sector monitoring and control that would come up with a conducive environment that would empower farmers by having an upper hand in decisions pertaining to their businesses.
"President John Magufuli has issued a directive for us to ensure that we plug all loopholes and hitches that have been hindering the sector's development for quite a long time; that is why we have taken all measures that we are confident will address the situation" Dr Tizeba said.
Dr Tizeba said the transformation was meant to facilitate agricultural sector enhancement and higher contribution to the national industrial economy agenda.
"Agriculture is the backbone of the economy, and is a key factor in the fight against poverty and unemployment; therefore, we want to transform the sector, in order to increase the chain of value for the produce, so that at the end of the day, they benefit farmers and contribute significantly to the industrial economy drive.
He told Parliament that his ministry, in collaboration with stakeholders of the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT), had prepared guidelines and a format on how investors are implementing environment protection in 15 agricultural projects.
Dr Tizeba said the bulk procurement of fertiliser system had paid dividends as supplies to farmers were swifter. He saluted The Tanzania People's Defence Forces (TPDF) for supporting the ministry in the distribution process, especially in far-flung, not-easily- accessible parts of the country.