TANZANIA is expected to have three million tonnes of surplus food this harvesting season, thus stands a better chance to benefit from the yields after the World Food Programme (WFP) expressed its readiness to support smallscale farmers to access market for their produce at good prices.
The Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa, said on Friday after meeting the WFP Executive Director, Mr David Beasley that until this month, the country has recorded surplus food of 1m tonne while the harvest season was still going on.
Mr Majaliwa said that reports from the Ministry of Agriculture indicate that 14 million tonnes have been harvested, while the actual food demand for Tanzanians is 13 million tonnes.
"Reports from the Ministry of Agriculture indicate that food crop yields such as maize, beans and cowpeas will reach 16 million tonnes while the country food demand per year is 13 million tonnes therefore there will be a surplus of 3 million tonnes," the premier said.
He added that the visit by the UN agency's boss was an opportunity for Tanzanians to benefit from agriculture, storage and selling of food crops produced in the country.
The PM noted that the decision by WFP to buy surplus food, which will be produced in the country, has assured Tanzanians of reliable market for their yields, because the process of selling and buying grains especially maize was being done by the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with WFP.
He said that in order to ensure food security in the country, the government was constructing grain storage facilities in eight food basket regions with the required standards to protect consumers' health.
Premier Majaliwa said that the visiting WFP boss has toured several villages in Songea, Namtumbo and Madaba in Ruvuma Region where he met farmers and witnessed the good yields especially maize.
He said the government needs to emphasise on construction of good grain storage facilities to avoid destruction of the crops due to poor storage.
On Thursday this week, WFP promised to work with the government to boost agricultural production and improve lives of small scale farmers.
"We believe that Tanzania can become major food producer to feed the entire African region... we therefore want to use this opportunity under President John Magufuli's hospitality, cooperation and leadership to improve lives and increase efficiency," Mr Beasley said shortly after meeting President Magufuli at the State House.
Mr Beasley, a former Governor of South Carolina in the US who is on a sevenday official visit of the country, explained that apart from buying crops from local farmers, WFP also runs capacity building programmes for farmers to enable them produce more crops efficiently.
Currently, WFP plans to expand the programmes' scope to reach 250,000 beneficiaries in the next two years, up from 50,000 farmers.
He further promised Dr Magufuli that he will work on his plea for WFP to increase the amount of crops it purchases from local farmers.