Speaking to reporters during the Nane Nane National Agricultural Exhibition in Simiyu Region, Acting Director General of the National Irrigation Commission (NIRC) Daudi Kaali said the 50.7 percent increase of the areas under irrigation was due to the improvement of irrigation infrastructures at the country’s various irrigation schemes.
Kaali said in the last five years NIRC has revamped 179 irrigation schemes, most of which were for rice cultivation, and added that according to the National Irrigation Master Plan Tanzania has 29.4 million hectares fit for irrigation farming.
He said out of that area 2.3 million hectares have a high chance for irrigation, 4.8 million hectares have the possibility for irrigation and 22,3 million hectares have a low chance to be put under irrigation.
He said up to 2015 before the advent of NIRC a total of 461,000 hectares of land were already developed for irrigation farming, and added that NIRC’s aim is to develop irrigation farming by adhering to better use of resources for sustainable crops production.
Maize production has increased from 1.5 to 3.7-5 tons per acre, onions from 13 to 26 tons per hectare and tomatoes from 5 to 18 tons per hectare.
Earlier, speaking on the contribution of irrigation farming to the national economy in the 2015-2020 period, Eng Daniel Manase NIRC’s Inspection and Quality Control Unit on irrigation projects said irrigation farming has contributed 24 percent in the production of food crops in the country.
In addition, Manase said irrigation farming has also provided employment to the people.
The Acting Director of NIRC’s Research and Innovation, Eng Gregory Chigwiye said in the next five years NIRC has mobilized itself to build and refurbish irrigation infrastructures so as to have one million hectares under irrigation.