Minister of Ministry for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Dr Charles Tizeba said yesterday that the government plans to export a huge chunk of the leguminous crop to India following agreements with the Asian country.
The deal to export the crop stemmed from a visit by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the country mid this year, according to Dr Tizeba.
“India is the main export market for Tanzania and the exports of pulses have enjoyed continuous and sustained growth, this will be a huge opportunity for farmers in the northern zone where this crop is cultivated,” explained the minister yesterday when touring the Selian Agriculture Research Institute (SARI) in Arusha.
Dr Tizeba, who was accompanied by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) representative to Tanzania, Fred Kafeero, challenged researchers at the centre to focus on studies on pulses to ensure that the country benefits from the crop.
“The government is looking into ways of equipping agricultural institutions so that they continue conducting basic research on such crops,” added the minister.
At the moment, the demand of the grain legume in India is between 230,000 and 240,000 tons while its supply is 170,000 tons.
Tanzanian production and exports of pulses have both increased rapidly in the last decade.
The production of pulses is focused on cowpeas, pigeon peas, chickpeas and dried beans, mainly exported to traditional markets.
Though production of pulses in the country almost doubled in the last five years alone, Dr Tizeba acknowledged that the country still faced serious challenges in the sector.
They include lack of available seeds, poor agricultural practices, and the presence of pests and diseases all end up affecting yields and quality, according to the minister.
Kafeero, on his part, reaffirmed the organisation’s support to the country in improving food security.
“Pulses are a great source of income to Tanzanian farmers, we will continue engaging with research institutions on improving food security and also provide technical expertise in agriculture as a whole,” assured Kafeero.
At its 68th session, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2016 as the International Year of Pulses.