Minister of Agriculture Japhet Hasunga told hundreds of farmers and other agriculture stakeholders attending an agribusiness show at Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute Selian that the late Mkapa was a strong advocate of commercial farming.
Hasunga said Mkapa’s administration invested heavily in smallholder farmers so that they graduate into commercial farmers something which has seen many of them become active agribusiness players.
“As we mourn the death of former President Mkapa, let’s also put into practice what he advocated during his years in office such as use of hybrid seeds, fertilizers and listen to researchers findings on best farming techniques,” he said.
He said the deceased also ordered researchers and other agriculture experts to work with smallholder farmers so that they improve yield and quality of their crops to eventually become commercial farmers.
“The late Mkapa was also a strong advocate of poor people making use of their labour power to cultivate farms and earn money to improve their living standards,” the Agriculture Minister noted while stressing that institutions such as TARI Selian have a key role to play to deliver on commercial farming.
Hasunga further noted that time has come when outdated farming practices such as use of hand-hoes and traditional seeds should be replaced by modern farming techniques hence ordering extension officers to closely work with smallholder farmers.
“More often smallholder farmers earn less because of low yields and poor quality of crops because of following outdated farming practices which don’t follow expert advice,” Hasunga stated while pointing out that modern farming also puts emphasis on soil texture and weather conditions.
“Many farmers don’t even listen to weather forecasts as regularly announced by Tanzania Meteorological Agency which is an important experts institution which alerts people on what to expect in a day or season,” he underlined while also putting on notice middlemen who exploit farmers by offering poor farm-gate prices for commodities.