Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) senior lecturer Prof Lusato Kulwijira said in Morogoro that without improvements in agricultural productivity, industrialization will remain a pipe dream because industries need raw materials including commodities.
Prof Kulwijira said that apart from Liganga and Mchuchuma iron ore and coal resources, a lot more raw materials will come from agricultural produce such as cotton, fish or livestock, cashew nuts and sisal.
The SUA do further noted that if the government wants to eradicate poverty and industrialize, agriculture is the sector to start with.
“There is need to have softer lending terms and close supervision so as to allow many small scale farmers access loans and also get better extension services to produce commercially,” he underlined.
He noted that extension services are critical in modernizing agriculture because smallholder farmers who have access to concessional loans, quality seeds and extension services are capable of feeding industries.
Prof Kulwijira revealed: “I wonder why our governments are not honouring the Maputo Declaration of allocating 10 percent of the national budget to agriculture although our leaders claim to have interests of the poor majority at heart, and these majority poor depend on agriculture.”
Commenting on the same subject, Tea Research Institute of Tanzania (TRIT) Executive Director, Dr Emmanuel Simbua, said in order for farmers to succeed, they need unimpeded access to improved seeds and planting materials, agro-chemicals particularly fertilizer and effective advisory or extension services.
Dr Simbua also said the government needs to support farmers through the annual budget by ensuring that these services are readily available at grass-root level.
“The government should consider strengthening capacity of our Agricultural Seed Agency (ASA) so that it can produce more and quality seeds. This move should also go hand in hand with efforts to involve the private sector and other input dealers get government subsidy that will enable farmers afford purchasing and using these improved seeds and planting materials,” he said.
He revealed that the government should also invest in agricultural research to ensure that new technology that responds to current needs of farmers is available.
He added: “For sustainable fertilizer availability, the government should seriously accelerate plans to build our own fertilizer production factory. Reliance on external imports is unsustainable,” the TRI chief emphasized.
Dr Simbua also advised that extension officers should be increased and trained regularly to ensure that the most modern methods and technology are put in use.
“Upgrading and regular training of extension officers to improve their aptitude is very crucial. The private sector should also engaged through private public partnership to provide extension services and agro-inputs to farmers,” he said.