Last Thursday was a good day for Tanzania’s agriculture, as the government and an Indian company formally agreed on the modalities of further promoting irrigation farming and the efficient management and use of water in Tanzania.
Specifically, the day saw the Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives ministry and India’s Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd sign a memorandum of understanding to that effect.
Part of the proof that this was a decisive occasion for Tanzanians lay in the fact that the signing ceremony was witnessed by none other than Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda, who has always declared that his humble beginnings have made him both adore and treasure agriculture.
But it is also on record that the Indian firm stands as one of the largest and most technologically advanced players in irrigation farming in the world, which should make Tanzania proud to have wooed such a giant into agreeing to support its agriculture.
As self-avowed guardians of the national agricultural policy popularly known as Kilimo Kwanza, which suggests that agriculture is now our country’s top priority, we are likewise proud. This is because it is our hope that Thursday’s ceremony will soon be followed by concrete action that will help pull the stings of drudgery and avoidable pain from Tanzania’s agriculture, making the sector a step more modern and therefore more efficient and productive.
In remarks at the ceremony, an upbeat PM Pinda expressed hope that Tanzania’s agriculture would find JISL’s rich and long global experience in research and actual farm work a sure asset.
He said his dream was to see the Indian firm chip in with new but appropriate and affordable technology that would facilitate the evolution of irrigation and other modes of agriculture, improve food processing and marketing alongside supporting the development of renewable sources of energy.
This ties in excellently with the pillars of Kilimo Kwanza, one of which is the need to transform peasant and small-scale farmers into commercial players through emphasis on greater productivity and enhanced tradability of their produce.
Also underlined is the importance of promoting medium and large-scale farmers to the full realisation of the initiative’s vision and objectives – that is, the modernisation and commercialisation of agriculture at all levels.
It is heartening that in his observations at Thursday’s event, PM Pinda did not start and end with appeals to the Indian company only. Rather, and this is noteworthy, he said it was of crucial importance for the government to use the line of credit extended by the Indian government tom demonstrate the various wonders technological “wizardry” can do with water.
To be fair, the government has done a lot in terms of drawing up plans to ensure more efficient and economical use of the water resources Tanzania is blessed with. However, there is precious little to show with respect to implementation – that is, unless one cites the very few cases of irrigation practised by private farmers.
What is most needed now is to ensure we put to truly abide by the letter and spirit of Kilimo Kwanza, in part by ensuring intervention by partners like JISL effectively complement our own efforts.