Give more funds to local authorities for productive agriculture projec

10May 2016
Dickson Ng`hily
The Guardian
Give more funds to local authorities for productive agriculture projec

ALTHOUGH the Parliament has endorsed 2016/17 budget estimates for the ministry responsible with agriculture; a member-led Tanzanian non-governmental organization Agriculture Non State Actors Forum is backing for increasing funds to Local Government Authorities (LGAs).

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According to media reports, at least 275bn/- were endorsed as the ministry’s 2016/17 budget estimates, out of which at least 116.4bn/- would be cater for development expenditure.

In their budget analysis and outlook for the fiscal year 2013/14, 2015/16 and 2016/17 dabbled ‘The past, the present and the future’ ANSAF is of the view that LGAs should financially empowered since are the ones responsible for the execution of agriculture.

The recommendations come at a time whereby according to CAG report of 2013/14 on average, all LGAs in the country can finance their own expenses by merely 11 percent. For instance; in the fiscal year 2013/14, all LGAs’ total expenditure was 298trn/- while own sources only generated 353.5bn/-.

Therefore, the organisation believes that the little amount from own source, limits the ability for LGAs to prioritize and implement, especially in cases where there are delays of transfer from exchequer.

“To increase budget funds at LGAs, embraces an inclusive planning approach, where the private and civil society organizations can incorporate their plans within the LGAs. This will increase the amount and encourage coordination among sector player,” reads part of the proposal.

According to ANSAF, the move would also improve timely disbursement of the grants to LGAs, which in turn would enable them to complete the planned projects timely thus reduce unspent or avoid misallocation of funds to another none agricultural project.

Nonetheless the NGO without detailing also pushes for another radical proposal of developing a special18-month budget, instead of the current 12, the proposed budget should cater for July-June-December.

On the other hand, Ansaf acknowledges the government support to the agriculture sector through Big Result Now (BRN) and the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) saying the move seems to be one of the good options. However this should not obscure the government from supporting regions with lower human development index (HDI).

When it comes to the adverse absorption capacity, ANSAF says: “The CAG report also showed that LGAs had 734.7bn/- to spend on development projects, while it only managed to absorb 531.5bn/- leaving at least 203.1bn/- unspent which is equivalent to 28 percent of total amount available.”

However, the NGO insist that some LGAs have consistently been under spending and have large amount of carry-over funds.

Furthermore, over the last seven years, it is said that there has been an inherent delay in transferring funds from treasury. Agriculture being a seasonal sensitive sector requires timely transfer to ensure funds availability and early preparations before onset of rains or other seasons.

For instance, by end of March 2014, about 35 percent of development budget had been transferred to spending units for Agricultural Sector Lead Ministries (ASLMs), whereas in 2015 by March, only 28 percent of the development budget for the Ministry of Agriculture Food Security and Cooperatives had been realized.

Besides, ANSAF observed that 50 percent of the development budget was allocated for seed, fertilizers and agro-chemical subsidies. The actual spending for crops sub-sector on subsidies has progressively been increasing from 7.4bn/- in 2005/6 to 1.1trn/- in 2009/10. Moreover, is worried as for the financial year 2016/17, figures have drastically reduced to around 200m/-.

“Taking prices of respective years, the percentage spending relative to the sub-sector GDP grew from 0.21 percent in 2005/6 to 1.91 percent in 2009/10. Although the initiative is good, the system of administering the National Agricultural Inputs Voucher System (NAIVS) must be improved to eliminate loopholes at Agro-dealers levels and village distribution of voucher to the appropriate audience,” explained the report.

For seed sub-sector, ANSAF says Tanzania is sufficient by about 25 percent of the 120,000MT annual demand. Between 2005 and 2012, the increase of seeds availability from private sector and decrease for public sector was equivalent to 66 percent increase and 7 percent decrease respectively.

Even though the partial improvement of regulations and entry of private sector in agriculture has improved the seed availability in the country but has been unable to cover the overall demand for seeds in the country which now stands at 60 percent. Major challenge being the time required to release new varieties of imported seeds from outside the region and benchmarking with International best practices.

Over years, Tanzania has been importing seeds from other countries. A significant part of imported seeds have been proved to be counterfeit, resulting into loss among smallholder producers. There is need to strengthen local private research companies to produce foundational seed and conduct multiplication through quality declared seed arrangement.

For the youth and private sector investment in agriculture, the country’s member-led non-governmental organization insists on a directive of the central government to LGAs of allocating at least 5 percent of its funds towards youth programs, should be adhered and monitored to ensure rural youth have access to capital and support in their own development initiatives.

While the eligibility for credit facilities in Tanzania remain very low (due to collateral conditionalities), there is a need to review fiscal policies and strategically encourage investment in agriculture.

The private sector (be it processors, traders, exporters, importers or service providers) has the potential to improve the functioning of youth enterprises through provision of services, transfer of skills, technologies, inputs and capital.
Therefore ANSAF says: “Linking youth and the private sector in their geographical areas and value chains are expected to enable young producers to take further roles in the value chain and not only dwell in production.

Apart from linking the youth with private sector, the NGO would love to see ministry responsible for agriculture creates guarantee schemes that will enable the youth to access loans and other financial services from the private sector financial institutions.

It is said that the current level of lending towards agriculture is barely 10 percent of overall loan portfolios in the country (90 percent of that goes to trading, 9 percent value addition and 1 percent actual farming/production). So the guarantee schemes ought to enable young farmers to access loans with fewer conditions.

On the other hand, ANSAF sees the need to change citizen in particular young people perception towards agriculture and see economic potentials within the sector. When the government and its development partners planned well young men and women can be employed in different nods of the value chain.

“…CSOs need to advocate for the families and village government to set aside land for young people agricultural projects,” the analysis reads.

ANSAF is a member-led forum for non-state actors to discuss and work towards solutions to improve the agriculture sector in the interests of men and women currently living in poverty. It works with members to bring together a critical mass of actors and as such supports the coordination of critical debates on local, national and global issues focusing on policies and practice.

The NGO represents its members’ interests and needs in national and local forums of dialogue to influence change using evidence based on research and experience to stimulate growth of the agricultural sector focusing with more interest on smallholder farmers. It also actively promotes accountability, transparency and citizen engagement (inclusiveness) within the agricultural sector.

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