Testimonies of rice farmers in Lekitatu, Arusha Region, on how the use of modern fertiliser and extension services support have helped increase production by over 100 per cent are proof that the private sector can play a crucial role in transforming agriculture and boost farmers' incomes in Tanzania.
Though the support of Yara Tanzania Company, which has helped the farmers to adopt the use of modern fertiliser and extension services, paddy growers who were harvesting an average of 15 bags per acre are now getting between 30 and 35 bags on the same size of land.
The Lekitatu case has presented stakeholders and authorities, particularly the Agriculture ministry, with a ready-made platform for action and a practicable approach in areas where rice farmers need support to increase production.
Considering the fact that rice is the third most important food crop in Tanzania after maize and cassava, the need to support farmers with modern fertiliser and extension services cannot be overemphasized when setting agricultural development priorities.
We take this opportunity to commend Yara, which has been providing agronomists to train growers on proper rice cultivation and guide them on fertiliser use.
The Norwegian chemical company has set a good example of how the private sector can play a role in transforming agriculture. We understand that the government is currently rolling out the National Rice Development Strategy (Phase II) that is aimed at increasing production of the crop from 2.2 million to 4.5 million tonnes by 2030.
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Although the production target is a good start, there is every reason to believe that Tanzania can easily cross the threshold to become Africa's leading rice producer if the private sector is fully engaged in the development of the crop.