Minister tells food reserve agency to find its own funds to buy maize

09Jan 2019
By Financial Times Reporter
Financial Times
Minister tells food reserve agency to find its own funds to buy maize

The government will no longer provide funds to enable the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) to buy maize from farmers, the Minister for Agriculture, Japhet Hasunga has said.

Minister for Agriculture, Japhet Hasunga

Instead, the agency should put in place strategies to enable it to raise funds to finance its own activities, he stated.

He was speaking to NFRA workers after inspecting the ongoing construction of new modern warehouses and silos in Songea.

Hasunga told the NFRA acting executive officer Vumilia Zikankuba to strategise on how the agency is going to improve on its activities without depending on handouts from the government.

He told her that the government will no longer provide NFRA with funds to purchase maize, but instead leave it to the agency to come up with plans on how it will raise money to buy more maize from farmers.

He said NFRA should start thinking and operating as a business entity. “This is no time for NFRA to wait for a capital injection from the government. The agency is supposed to think commercially and increase purchase of maize to more than 300,000 tonnes.”

In addition to a crop buying strategy, the Cereal and Other Crops Board has also been tasked to find markets for the farmers’ produce.

According to Hasunga, there is a need to push up crop buying as the ministry has been pushing farmers to produce more.

“There is no point urging and pushing farmers to produce more if they are not assured of markets for their produce. That is what I want us to focus on for now,” he stated.

He said it is also unfortunate that many farmers were paid very low prices for their produce, saying that should be ended by finding good markets.

On the other hand, the minister congratulated NFRA on its move to set up modern warehouses and silos in eight areas within seven zones where the agency is operating.

The warehouses and silos will increase storage capacity from 251,000 tonnes currently to 700,000 tonnes in 2025.

They are being built in Songea, Dodoma, Mpanda, Makambako, Mbozi, Sumbawanga, Shinyanga and Babati under an agreement between Tanzania and Poland which produced a soft loan of $55 million in September 2015.

The minister said completion of the project will help reduce costs on pesticides and sacks for storing crops like maize.