THE government has been urged to involve the private sector in the growth and development of agriculture, livestock and fisheries sectors in Tanzania.
Presenting findings of a study conducted by the Southern Agricultural Growth of Tanzania (Sagcot) in collaboration with the Local Government Authorities to stakeholders, study adviser Leo Mavika said one of the challenges they found out in the study was the least involvement of the private sector.
"We went to some places and we were told that there was a shortage of extension officers, but the area had some extension officers employed by the private sector to attend to farmers' groups.
We wonder why the government in such areas doesn't utilise such extension officers," he said.
He, however, emphasised the government's need to employ extension officers in agriculture and livestock keeping to ensure industrialisation and middle income economy status by 2025 was achieved.
"The government plan is to achieve the industrial economy status that will be facilitated by the agricultural sector. Therefore, we can't underestimate agricultural, livestock and fishery sectors.
One of the ways to empower these sectors is to employ adequate extension officers," he said. He added that areas without sources of water needed more extension officers, who would teach people on fish farming by building ponds.
He said notwithstanding the fact that the policy had it that all wards in the country must have extension officers in agriculture, livestock and fisheries, the study found out that the shortage was huge.
He said instructing farmers through a farmer field school was not appropriate as it didn't address challenges facing farmers and yet it was the most used way of serving farmers.
He added that the working environment was not friendly to extension officers and this situation led to inefficiency.
On the working environment, he said the study looked at various criteria, including offices and the transport means they used. "There is an acute shortage of working tools compared to the number of extension officers.
However, what is important is to note that the government has provided more motorcycles than bicycles, which is commendable," he said.
The study, which was conducted in Iringa, Njombe, Songwe and Mbeya regions, aims at discovering the availability and working conditions of extension officers in agriculture, fishery and livestock in districts, wards and village levels.
For his part, Sagcot Policy Specialist Prudence Lugendo said the study was conducted following challenges experienced in collaboration between public and private sectors.