Tanzania: Govt Wants Removal of Substandard Cotton Inputs

Mwanza — The government wants the elimination of substandard cotton input to realise its fair share of subsidising 30bn/-on sector every season.

This came after the sector is said to be awash with substandard cotton pesticides in the local market denying farmers and the nation the required earnings.

The situation frustrated the government, thus, ordering Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI) to act urgently on the matter to avert losses to farmers and nation.

The Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Mr Innocent Bashungwa, said they would not permit the situation to continue following increasingly allegation over the dumping of fake pesticides which is costly to the economy.

"The government spends over 30bn/- for pesticides each season but we need to be certain that there is value for money in this kind of investment," Mr Bashungwa said when addressing cotton stakeholders over the weekend in Mwanza City.

He warned: "We will not be doing justice to the cotton farmers who end up suffering loses for using inferior inputs." He said TPRI in collaboration with the Tanzania Cotton Board (TCB) should work together in addressing the problem.

The deputy minister criticised cotton stakeholders for conducting regular meetings but without coming up with tangible solutions to the challenges facing the subsector urging them to utilise such meetings by reaching concrete and workable resolutions.

He blamed what he referred to as reactionary approaches to the matters affecting the development of the cotton subsector wondering why it took so long to solve issues that have been raised by stakeholders including poor and unpredictable productivity in realising cotton value chain.

On inputs including recommended cotton seeds, Mr Bashungwa said TCB and stakeholders should intensify more awareness campaigns to the farmers on best cotton farming procedures.

The country was on better position to realising impressive efficiency in cotton harvests by getting rid of current 300kg per acre and reach to 9 00kg per acre which is best international practice.

Mr Bashungwa also tasked the cooperative commission to work on good approaches that will lead to profitable cotton marketing strategies in order to boost farmers' morale boosted by attractive prices.

The TCB Vice Chairman, Dr J oe Kabisa, reiterated his usual call for the government to empower crop boards particularly TCB which he said was overburdened with a number of financial challenges.

"We expect good harvests this season but we could do even better if the cotton board is adequately empowered financially, fertilisers and other inputs available on time and extension services improved," he appealed.

Earlier, TCB Director General Marco Mtunga submitted a number of suggestions aiming at improving productivity in the cotton value chain focusing on how best inputs could reach the farmers timely and conveniently.

Some of his suggestions included introduction of digital database of farmers where all their records would be put, cotton marketing system introduced and some inputs procured directly from the manufacturers instead of relying on agents.

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