How Tanzania’s industrial drive depends on thriving agriculture

19Jan 2019
The Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
How Tanzania’s industrial drive depends on thriving agriculture

IN ensuring that the government links farmers to growing industrial investment in the country, Guardian Reporter Francis Kajubi caught up with acting President of the Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (TCCIA) OCTAVIAN MSHIU. Excerpts:

Acting President of the Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (TCCIA) OCTAVIAN MSHIU

QUESTION: How does the private sector collaborate with the public sector in ensuring the government attains the 2025 middle income economy?

ANSWER: I can say that there are serious commitments to link the two with the inception of the Blueprint and Private Sector Reforms Policy. To attain industrialization by 2025 the government must focus on increasing facilitation of an enabling environment for the private sector to lead, especially small and medium-scale industries, and continue to attract more foreign direct investment for large-scale industries while at the same time  facilitating local entrepreneurs who wish to invest in large industries, especially those which do not need sophisticated mechanisation.

The focus of parastatals and the state should be on backbone strategic industries which will increase power generation from coal and hydropower and the state needs to slowly disengage from all forms of light investments which can comfortably be delivered by the private sector to increase inclusiveness through security and stock markets.

Heavy investment in research-based institutions such as Nyumbu, Mzinga, Costech, TPRI and TIRDO must be left to focus on the focal cause of their establishment rather than involving them in non-core activities. For further achievements, the government should put in place a bank to serve the industrial sector with guaranteed loans for machinery procurement.

Simplify the process for setting up plants in terms of monetary and the number of regulatory conditions and their certification, increase the number of technical colleges and new mordent curriculum. Increase the people’s purchasing power is also important.

Q: How do you describe the current agricultural sector growth?

A: The current agricultural sector growth does not align with industrial  growth  because it still uses traditional agricultural methods  and expects to feed industries the inputs that will not be sufficient  due to the fact that we produce small quantities compared to what our industries  need.  A good example is wheat. We import wheat because of its insufficient supply. Moreover, we need also to modernize our agricultural sector if we really want our industrialization model to be realistic. We need to seriously focus on mass commercial farming. Commercial farmers will be surrounded by medium and small-scale farmers and will form a strong extension support base and ease the government’s task of organizing small-scale family-based subsistence farmers, which does not hold the future in a modern mechanized-based farming. We must allocate sufficient farm land for commercial farming through TIC.

Q: From the TCCIA point of view, is the consumption gap between made in Tanzania products and imported ones reduced?

A: The consumption gap between goods made in Tanzania and imported ones has not yet been reduced because a lot of products are being exported raw and we have been consuming lots of imported products like cooking oil despite the fact that we have oil seeds, but its quality and quantity is an issue, and the cost of production is high.

Quality products chase traders from buying local products, but the price of locally made products is also a problem compared to imported ones. Although World Trade Organisation rules discourage protectionism, it’s obvious that our local industries need to be protected in one way or another if they are to grow.

We see even leading developed countries struggle with these tariff issues. Take an example of what is happening to NAFTA. As we grow our local consumption of our industrial products, we must advocate for AfCTA to increase business among Africans (intra Africa business).

Q: What opportunities do you see which have not yet been fully utilised by local and foreign investors in as far as industrialization is concerned?

A: We need to invest more in agriculture to produce enough raw materials for our factories and exports. We need more value addition to cater for our raw materials, hence more processing industries to exploit the opportunity to become the grain basket of the entire region. We need high tech industries or even develop outsourced technologies to cater for our young graduates.  

Q: What is the country missing out in making sisal a productive commercial crop?

A: Sisal, a crop which was very valuable before, then with invention of the synthetic fibre it has lost its value. We have recently witnessed its value regain and the government has started a move at increasing its production by encouraging the people to plant more of it.

Moreover, recognising it as among the commercial crops, the value of sisal is growing and now even small and medium-scale farmers near plantations are engaging in sisal farming. As for plantations, Katani Limited is an example. They are working with small farmers through their AMCOS.

Q: Tanzania keeps a good number of cattle but lacks leather factories for skin processing. How do you describe investment in this sector and what should be done?

A: Yes, Tanzania is the second most cattle populous country in Africa after Ethiopia.  We had a network of leather industries, most of which now no longer exist or are technologically outdated.  We need to revive these, otherwise large manufacturers for leather products will have serious scarcity of raw materials and fail to break even and this may bring another censure. So, first let’s establish tanneries. The government is supposed to support private and public tanneries developers. But we also need world class abattoirs if we want our tanneries to get steady supply of fresh leather.

 

 

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