Arusha — JAPAN is assisting Tanzania to roll out modern farming initiatives; so that the latter can achieve the national target of ensuring one million hectares of arable land is placed under irrigation schemes by 2020.
This was revealed by the Japanese Envoy to Tanzania, Ambassador Masaharu Yoshida, during the inauguration of a proposed 150 hectare irrigation project being established under the Arusha Technical College (ATC), with funding from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
"We are already assisting to bolster Tanzania's paddy farms because Japan is an expert in this field and through this cooperation, the country's rice production has doubled in within a ten-year time frame," said Ambassador Yoshida.
Earlier on the Acting Director for the National Irrigation Commission, Engineer Seth Luswema, had pointed out that, the only way to combat the effects of climate change and deal with natural disasters such as floods was to invest heavily in irrigation schemes.
"Because we can intercept flood water before it can cause disasters, tapping the flows and channel the currents into irrigation schemes to water crops or replenish reservoir dams is a possibility," stated Engineer Luswema. The Acting NiRC Director used the occasion to mention the soon to be launched National Irrigation Master plan 2018, which will see the nation work to transform its agricultural activities from the weather dependent, rain fed crop cultivation, into allseason irrigation farming.
"It targets to expand farming areas under irrigation and also to overhaul the existing schemes that still operate through outdated traditional irrigation structures," he said. It is reported that, nearly 465,000 hectares, are under irrigation and these accounts for just five per cent of the country's total estimated 29.4 million hectares under cultivation.
Engineer Luswema added that despite the limited area of irrigated land, more than 24 per cent of the total food production in the country came from such farms under irrigation schemes, indicating great potential. One of the Irrigation experts from JICA, Mr Naoyuki Matsuoka, who is assisting the Arusha Technical College (ATC)'s Oljoro based Training Farm, said the establishment of the project started in 2014, taking four years and will be completed on the 31st of March 2018.
The Government of Japan, through JICA disbursed nearly two billion/- to support the ATC scheme as well as other related projects. The Oljoro Training Farm includes a man-made lake, rainwater harvesting facilities, sprinklers, and drip irrigation including water channels crisscrossing the vast 150-hectare real estate.
The Acting Rector at the Arusha Technical College, Engineer Masudi Senzia, said future plans for the project which runs under the 'Irrigation Human Resources Development,' include establishing student hostels and lecture rooms at the farm located about 20 kilometres from the Arusha City Centre.