Research projects promoting Tanzania’s industrialisation agenda

11Jan 2022
Deo Mfugale
The Guardian
Research projects promoting Tanzania’s industrialisation agenda

WHEN the late President John Magufuli delivered a speech to inaugurate the new Parliament at the end of 2015, he stressed that industrialization was a key priority of the government and that industries producing goods such as clothes, textiles and edibles-

A technician observes the performance of an avocado oil extraction machine. Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Sigisbert Mmasi

-would be encouraged. Other priority industries that the government pledged to invest in value-addition include cashew processing as well as dairy and meat processing.

The President also underscored the need to promote small-scale industries that would focus on value-addition of agricultural products so that small producers can get better prices in the market.

It was a coincidence that Tanzania started participating in the Science Granting Council Initiative (SGCI) in the same year thus giving impetus to the country’s industrialization policy. COSTECH, Tanzania’s Science Granting Council, oversees implementation of SGCI projects which mainly focus on improving the country’s scientific research outputs and support various policy initiatives. The Science Granting Council Initiative thus seeks to strengthen national science systems and lead to nationally led research that contributes to development in Tanzania by managing research, designing and monitoring research programmes based on the use of robust science, technology and innovation (STI) indicators. SGCI projects also contribute to the realization of Tanzania’s 2025 Vision which spelt out the country’s aim to become a semi-industrialised country by 2025 with targeted contribution of the manufacturing to the national economy to reach a minimum of 40 percent of GDP. 

“ In order to achieve this target, Tanzania aims to transform from being dominated by natural resource exploitation activities and extractive industries to become an economy with a broad and diverse base of manufacturing, processing and packaging industries that will lead both the productive as well as the export sector,” reads part of a document by Tanzania Invest.

According to the Second Five Years Development Plan Tanzania’s average industrial growth rate should have increased to 10.5 percent, raising the sector’s contribution to GDP to 12.5 percent by 2020. “Tanzania will need to transform its economy in order to increase value addition in its export basket, tap into global value chains (GVCs) and, ultimately, provide its citizens with a better life,” reads part of the FYDP 2 document.

Thus implementation of SGCI projects has contributed to the government’s industrialization policy, realization of Vision 2025 as well as implementation of the FYDP2.  

“Since inception of SGDI in 2015 we have made tremendous contribution to policies related to science and technology. Most of our research projects are directed at designing and producing simple machines so that small producers can add value to their goods and earn more money. However, influencing change of policy and even advocating a review of some cannot be attributed to only one institution but a collective action of several institutions with each making contributions relevant to their area subject of specialty,” says Neema Tindamanyire, Coordinator of SGCI in Tanzania.

“We have made our own contributions in policy reviews but I cannot say what we have achieved can entirely be attributed to SGCI,” she adds.

Partners implementing SGCI projects in Tanzania include Mgolole Agro-processing Company, Arusha Oil processing company and Tanzania Engineering Manufacturing Design Organization which implement projects some of which are directly related to value-addition of agricultural products. Avocado oil extraction, sunflower oil refining andsunflower harvesting, threshing and improvement of oil processing for small scale producers - all these are projects that focus on value-addition of agricultural crops by small-scale producers.

“Since agriculture is the mainstay of the Tanzanian economy, the manufacturing industry is centred on turning raw agricultural products into finished goods. Currently, the majority of crops in Tanzania are marketed in their raw forms while value-addition to agricultural products is mostly done on small-scale secondary level,” reads part of a document by Tanzania Invest.

The small-scale producers and growers are the ones who need simple and efficient technology for value-addition of their products because they cannot afford imported machines. So in contributing to implementation of the policy of industrialization and other policy statements, SGCI projects address grassroots level producers with the aim of raising their incomes and reducing poverty at family level but at the same time participating in making the country realize sustainable development.

“In executing the industrialization policy, we must not leave small producers behind because they need efficient and affordable technology that will help them improve their lives. Big producers can always find their way out,” says Dr Sigisbert Mmasi who is the Principle Investigator of the Development and Commercialization of a Suitable Avocado Oil Mini-Extraction Plant to Enhance Productivity and Quality of Avocado Oil in Tanzania. The main objective of the project is to develop and commercialize suitable technologies (machine and equipment) for extraction of avocado oil from farm growers and oil processors.

The project aims to enable small-scale farmers to make good use of avocado fruits that have been rejected by buyers. There are also local species that find no buyers in the market. “Under the circumstances farmers suffer big loss that frustrates them from expanding avocado farms and has hindered their efforts to reduce poverty. The project seeks to reduce the loss by providing farmers with simple technology to extract oil from avocado fruits. This will reduce waste and provide income which farmers would otherwise have not realized,” explains Dr Mmasi

At the heart of the industrialization policy is the need to take affordable science, technology and innovation to the common man so as to change their lives. “The policy of industrialization requires people to access simple, efficient and affordable technology that they can use to improve their lives. That is why we plan to open centres in Morogoro and Arusha to market plasma cutter machine products so that fabricators and construction contractors can access quality machine parts from us,” explains Engineer Patrick Kivanda the Principal Investigator for plasmer cutter machines project.