A major sub-topic with respect to agriculture relates to the sector’s endlessly heavy association with the weather and low-quality and therefore inefficient in- puts and methods.
We have witnessed various slogans “attached” to the sector, ostensibly to spur an agrarian revolution of sorts in the country, but often without much success.
Nearly six decades after Independence, the sector remains the major preoccupation of the majority of the population, most particularly in rural areas. but most players are still heavily weighed down by the hoe, with irrigation, fertilizers and other sure agents of change well beyond the means of small-holders.
The much-touted ‘Kilimo Kwanza’, the national ‘green revolution blueprint’ introduced in 2009 with support from the government, was not the first of its kind in the country but its implementation still faced daunting challenges.
One explanation related to the fact that some of the relevant authorities officials decide to believe that things can work to satisfaction while they remain seated in their air-conditioned offices while dishonest elements engage corruption in, say, the importation of power tillers and the purchase and distribution of cotton seeds.
The sector passed through various phases, including during the Arusha Declaration, which was widely regarded as the country’s blueprint for socialism blue- print whose implementation saw the likes of collective farming in ‘ujamaa’ villages and impassioned calls for self-reliance in foodstuffs.
Too bad, we have never really become as self-reliant as expected, while there have also been the burning issues of the prices of farmers’ crops as well as the farmers’ liberty to ‘dispose of’ their produce without undue government interference.
Several times in the past few years there was heated debate in the National Assembly, with mPs questioning government bans on exports of food by farmers themselves, particularly maize.
The argument was that it had proved impossible for the government to buy the produce at competitive prices while making timely payments for whatever it bought, and therefore farmers would only be adequately compensated if no bans were imposed.
Some mPs went to the extent of saying the government was getting it all wrong for denying poor farmers a just return for their sweat and toil.
Fortunately, the horizon now holds some promise of more rewarding times, with the government buying the dictum that farmers should be the ones to set the prices for their crops as well have liberty to sell the product of their labor at markets of choice but, of course, with government support and guidance.
Tanzania blessed the ushering in of the free market economy over thirty years ago and, or so many people argue, it should see the rationale of allowing the proverbial supply and demand rule to govern in agriculture and some other sectors but without abandoning its oversight mandate.
In the particular case of the sale of farm produce, it should be that farmers should be allowed to sell their food across the country’s borders to those in need at prices agreed upon, the only condition being that laid down procedures are strictly observed. Indeed, that is as it should be.