Deputy Minister for Agriculture Omari Mgumba made the remarks here yesterday at a two-day palm oil stakeholders’ meeting in Morogoro region.
He said the amount was a big loss to the country with a potential to produce adequate quantities of cooking oil if efforts were made to do so.
The workshop brought together experts from different government institutions, the private sector and financial institutions with a view to coming up with a comprehensive plan to revamp the crop.
“The current maximum demand for cooking oil in the country is more than 570,000 tonnes annually,” he said.
According to him, the current production of the oil is estimated at 210,000 tonnes annually from palm, sunflower, sesame and other oil crops combined.
He called on the stakeholders to come up with a comprehensive work plan to back up government efforts to revive the oil palm industry that will also help to improve the lives of farmers.
Efforts to revamp oil palm cultivation was a few months ago drummed up by Premier Kassim Majaliwa while on his tour of Kigoma region where he directed stakeholders in the subsector to come up with solutions to improving the crop’s production.
According to the premier, a friendly comprehensive work plan was crucial to achieving the dream while at the same time ensuring proper farm management, efficient processing, potential markets and an oil palm policy.
Agricultural Seed Agency (ASA) acting CEO Dr. Sophia Kashenge said cultivation of the crop for oil production in ASDP-II has been given required attention.
Citing an example, she said research showed that by the year 2020 demand for palm oil in the country will rise to 78millions tonnes annually.
According to her, during the premier’s visit to Kigoma a task force consisting of experts from ASA, Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) and Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI) was formed where they discussed how to better develop the crop.
In collaboration with Trade Mark East Africa, ASA called together palm oil stakeholders including government institutions, the private sector and farmers so as to come up with a common strategy to improve oil palm cultivation.
“Apart from Kigoma region, we see that we can increase production of the crop in other regions such as Morogoro, Ruvuma, Kagera and Coast,” she added.
TradeMark East Africa Country Director John Ulanga said oil palm had many potential opportunities which were yet to be tapped.
He said palm oil will enable the majority farmers come out poverty while at the same time improving the economy of the country as well.
“Therefore TradeMark East Africa has decided to fund this meeting with a view to revamping the crop so it can contribute to poverty alleviation and improve the nation’s economic growth,” he said