Dar E Salaam — Food production in Tanzania has recorded a surplus as yields in the 2017/18 climbed to 15.9 million tonnes, while annual demand stands at 13.3 million tonnes.
The government said this is an increase by 2.6 million tonnes, equivalent to a surplus of about 20 per cent.
The statistics was revealed on Wednesday, April 4, by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa in Parliament as he tabled his ministry's budget for 2018/19, an event which was live televised.
He said up to January this year the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) bought over 26,000 tonnes of maize and the food reserves of 92,740 tonnes.
Mr Majaliwa also said the government was putting special emphasis on the production of cash crops including tea, coffee, tobacco, cotton and cashews.
The Premier said these crops would provide the much needed raw materials for industries that will be set in the country; hence they are instrumental in pushing forward the industrialization agenda.
The crops have for decades been the source of foreign exchange for the country and many people are employed in the value chain of their production, he revealed.
"We have decided to closely monitor production of these crops. Some had been abandoned without development, something that lowered production. We're working on the various challenges facing production of these crops," he said.
Loss of confidence in the crops among farmers had led to low production; this was particularly due to mismanagement of cooperative societies and unions by incompetent managers.
For instance, the production of cotton was reduced from 456,818 tonnes in 2013/14 to over 150,000 tonnes 2015/16. For tobacco, production in past four years was decrease from 120,000 tonnes in 2010/11 to 60,609 2015/16.
The government is now taking measures to ensure accountability in cooperative societies and unions so as to boost production of cash crops.