Tanzania: How Agriculture Sector Performed in the Last 5 Years

Dar es Salaam — The 2015 election manifesto of the ruling party CCM targeted to develop agriculture in the country.

However, some critics were of the view that the party's government turned its back on agriculture as it did not set aside sufficient budget for the sector that employs about 67 percent of Tanzania's work force.

According to the CCM manifesto of 2015-2020, the government under President Jakaya Kikwete managed to increase the agriculture sector's budget from Sh903.8 billion in the 2010/11 financial year to Sh1.08 trillion in the 2014/15 fiscal year.

The Kikwete-led government also established an agriculture window at the then Tanzania Investment Bank (TIB) with the aim of giving loans at affordable interest rates to farmers.

The loans were aimed at enabling farmers to buy agri-inputs like farm implements; and even it set up Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB) .

To strengthen agricultural extension services, the government increased the number of student admissions in agriculture colleges from 1,246 in 2010/11 to 2,500 in 2013/14.

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The Kikwete government also ensured that the number of agricultural extension officers went up in rural and ward levels from 5,184 in 2010/11 to 9,558 in 2013/14.

On the production and supply of quality agri-inputs, better seeds were increasingly produced from 10,477.17 tons in 2005 to 32,340 in 2014 as the distribution of fertilizer was as well stepped up from 302,200 tons in 2009/2010 to 343,687 tons in 2013/14. The number of power tillers and tractors that were used in farming also increased from 11,223 in 2010/11 to 16,412 in 2013/14.

Production rate of food crops also continued to soar up from 12.83 million tons in 2009/10 to 16.01 million tons in 2014/15, thereby making the country to be self-sufficient in food.

The construction of a warehouse with a capacity of preserving 5,000 tons of crops was completed in Songea District, Ruvuma Region, in 2013/14 under the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (Sagcot).

Besides that, value-addition to vegetables in Lushoto and Korogwe districts in Tanga Region was made possible as pack-houses and refrigerated containers were constructed in the districts for that purpose.

Sunflower oil processing and refining machines were distributed to groups of small-scale producers in the country's crop producing regions.

Irrigation farming was given a priority as farming areas under irrigation were expanded, whereby the National Irrigation Act no. 5 of 2013 was enacted to establish the National Irrigation Commission.

Due to the implementation of the agricultural policy and different strategies, the irrigation farming has contributed 24 percent of the country's food demands.

The goals of the Fifth Phase Government

The 2015-2020 CCM manifesto emphasized on the implementation of Phase Two of the Agricultural Sector 14 Development Programme (ASDP II) that was launched by President John Magufuli in 2018.

Among the issues enshrined in the CCM election manifesto include involving the private sector to build marketing infrastructure and warehouses, particularly in rural areas, for the preservation of different crops.

The manifesto also targeted to provide education and stamp out the barriers of the warehouse receipt system.

The current situation

Analysing the implementation of CCM's election manifesto in the agriculture sector, Mr Joseph Nyamboha, an analyst of agricultural policies, says the government has managed to create jobs for the youth through the sector.

"The Magufuli administration in the past five years has given its priorities including investing in agriculture. For example, the government pledged more jobs for the youth through agriculture. For that, it was successful by 40 percent," says Mr Nyamboha.

On investing in the agriculture sector, especially in strategic crops like coffee, cotton, cashews, tea, maize and paddy, he says there have been some challenges, despite the government having removed crop export barriers.

"There are some challenges of crop processing. For example, 80 percent of raw cashews is still being sold outside the country. Sale of crops like cotton is still low and cotton ginneries have been operating seasonally because of low production of the crop. Some textiles like Mwatex, Mutex and Urafiki have also not been revived.

"We had the expectation of seeing such big textiles being revived so we could wear our own manufactured clothes, but it appears there have been no efforts in reviving them," he says.

However, he says the government has not done justice to the sector as it did not dish out sufficient funds to it as promised.

"For example, in the past the government was giving input subsidies, but nowadays it has stopped doing so," he says.

He says studies have also not been prioritized. "The African Union wants its member countries to set aside one percent of budgets of their governments for studies, but such budgets do not meet their goals.

"As a result, studies on technologies are still poor and even research centres do not do well," he says. On irrigation, he explains that only 500,000 hectares out of 29 million hectares get irrigated, adding that funds that are spent on such projects bank on donors.

"The current government's big budget is on infrastructure, free education, healthcare and grand projects, but agriculture is mostly left to individuals to continue pushing its growth," he notes.

Cashew market

In 2018, the government made interventions in the marketing of cashewnuts after price disputes occurred between the former and private buyers, whom farmers accused of underpaying them.

As a result, the government announced to buy the crop from the farmers at the price of Sh3, 300 per kilo. However, the move sparked questions among crop stakeholders.

They wanted to know as to where the government would take the cashews, bearing in mind that it had no sufficient number of processing factories.

However, the government's move also sparked complaints among the farmers over their delayed payments that continued to escalate during the 2019/20 harvesting season.

However, in May, this year, the government managed to pay Sh10 billion out of Sh31 billon that it owed the cashew farmers during the 2018/19 harvesting season.

In March, this year, Agriculture Minister Japhet Hasunga was quoted as saying that Sh20.421 billion and Sh11.278 billion was yet to be paid the farmers.

"Farmers in Coast, Ruvuma, Lindi and Mtwara regions are still receiving their payments after they were verified. The treasury will dish out Sh21 billion, but that depends on the availability of funds," Mr Hasunga told The Citizen.

Chadema's viewpoint

Contrary to CCM, Chadema in its 2015 election manifesto pledged to implement modern farming by uplifting it to between six and eight percent.

"We aim to put in place policies and strategies that will uplift the status of agriculture in terms of earnings and performance so it could attract the youth and other Tanzanians in general so to get rid of misleading belief over agriculture and to ensure farmers get long term loans from five to 15 years with affordable interest rates.

"This strategy will be strengthened with the support of farmers to form Saccos and village community banking (Vicoba) for giving loans among themselves," Chadema's manifesto outlined.

The opposition party also pledged to bring out industrial revolution by improving the education system, vocational training and focus on modern technology to liberate the farmers from hand hoe to modern farming.

"Providing farmers with agricultural extension services and giving them advice on business farming and ensuring they get better seeds and agri-inputs including improving and increasing the number of agricultural research centres.

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