Zanzibar's Minister for Agriculture,Livestock, Fisheries, and Natural Resources, Rashid Ali Juma, revealed this after launching the rice harvesting season in the Indian Ocean archipelago.
He said currently, the country was only 39.7 percent self-sufficient in rice and was targeting to achieve 60 percent rice self-sufficiency by 2020.
He said that the Isles’ government has been putting great emphasis on rice growing by empowering rice growers with best agronomic practices for higher productivity.
“We’ are encouraging farmers to venture into a system of Rice Intensification to boost production so that we reduce rice importation as we’re doing now,” He said.
In order to ensure this is possible, Juma said that the government intends to build irrigation infrastructures in an area of about 193 hectares.
The rationale for focusing on productivity improvement is because productivity increase will enhance food and nutrition security and reduction of poverty at household, community, national and regional levels.
“This underpins the achievement of some important UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2030," the minister said.
Mariam Juma, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, and Natural Resources described SRI, as one of the best farming techniques aimed at increasing rice yields, adding that it is a low water, labour-intensive, method that uses younger seedlings singly spaced and typically hand weeded with special tools.
According to her, a total of 45,000 tonnes of rice are expected to be harvested in this harvesting season, compared to 20,600 tonnes five years ago.