Minister for agriculture Prof Adolf Mkenda made the remarks yesterday when launching a programme to improve the value chain for crops like tea, coffee, vegetables and fruits in a programme called Agri-connect which will be implemented in six regions of southern highlands and Zanzibar.
The programme is funded by the European Union (EU) at a cost of $100 million (273bn/-) for a period of four years.
Prof Mkenda said researchers have found that Tanzania has vast land which is suitable for tea plantation compared to all countries in the East African region, however production is still low.
He said the CCM manifesto has indicated various strategies to increase production for the crop to increase revenue.
“I will personally follow up on the matter to ensure the programme is implemented. I do not expect the money to end up in seminars and meetings but should be used to achieve the intended goal,” he said.
He said out of the East African countries, Kenya is the leading nation with massive tea production estimated to be 500 million tonnes.
He said there are tea farms in Iringa which were abandoned adding that the government will revive them and open others to ensure production is increased.
EU ambassador to Tanzania Manfredo Fant said apart from improving the crop’s value chain, the programme will also build infrastructure such roads in rural areas so that farmers can access markets.
He said the roads will be improved to tarmac level and others will be improved to better status.
He also said that the programme is aimed at addressing malnutrition which has been a serious problem in the regions.
For her part, the chairman for the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Water, Dr Christine Ishengoma hailed the EU for the support saying it had multiple benefits to the country.
The regions that are expected to benefit from the programme include Mbeya, Iringa, Njombe, Ruvuma, Songwe where more than 220,000 farmers are expected to be reached.