Govt outlines strategic priorities for research, technology - Prof

01Jun 2021
By Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Govt outlines strategic priorities for research, technology - Prof

​​​​​​​THE government has outlined several strategic priorities which include investing heavily in research and technology so as to support production of enough and quality seeds to boost growth of the agriculture sector.

Agriculture minister Prof Adolf Mkenda.

Other priorities include increasing the size of land for irrigation farming, strengthening markets for agricultural crops, improving access to inexpensive loans for funding agricuboostltural, improving preparedness against invasion of pests and crop diseases as well strengthen extension services.

Agriculture minister Prof Adolf Mkenda said this in the House in Dodoma last week when tabling the ministry’s budget for 294.162bn/- in the 2021/22 fiscal year.

He said the priorities will be implemented in the next fiscal year and have been prepared based on the Five Year National Development Plan (FYDP) II endorsed by the Parliament in February, 2021 as well as the CCM election manifesto 2020.

“The first strategic priority in order to increase efficiency in the sector was to put emphasis on research through the Tanzania Agricultural Research institute (TARI) and the Tanzania Seed Agency (ASA),” he said.

In realisation of this, the government has increased TARI's budget from 7.35bn/- in 2020/21 fiscal year to 11.63bn/- in the 2021/22 financial year.

He also said through Section 26(1) of TARI's Act (No. 10 of 2016), an Agricultural Research Development Fund (ARDF) will be established to generate funds for sustainable research.

“We will also invest to increase production of quality seeds, the ministry will develop 13 seed farms of ASA by putting key infrastructures to facilitate sustainable irrigation. Seed production budget has also increased to 10.6bn/- in 2021/22 fiscal year from the 5.42bn/- of the 2020/21 year,” he explained.

On improving extension services, the minister said its budget has been increased from 603m/- in the 2020/21 financial year to 11.5bn/- in the FY-2021/22.

He said the funds will be used - among other things - for purchasing 1,500 motorbikes, soil testing equipment, provision of extension kits, smartphones and establishment of illustration farms by extension officers.

“Extension experts are still very in the country. Thera are only 6,704 extension officers contrary to the actual current need of 20,538 experts. Thus is among the area which will be given much emphasis to reverse the situation,” he said.

He said strengthening irrigation agriculture was another strategic priority area, stakeholders investment will be mobilized as well as completing construction of 13 Asa owned irrigation schemes through the IDF.

“Irrigation infrastructures will be rehabilitated, ongoing projects completed, large dams constructed and carry feasibility studies for the new projects,” he added.

Prof Mkenda said the ministry will continue coordinating partnership between local crop traders and their counterparts from countries with higher demands of the products  including South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Saudi Arabia, United Arabic Emirates (UAE), Mozambique, Kenya, Vietnam and China.

“The ministry is continuing with the coordination for a $42 million investment of a sprouted grain seeds company in Dodoma with a 35,000 tonnes capacity of barley. The Cereals and Other Produce Board (CPB) has entered a contract with farmers for procurement of 21,600 tonnes of wheat,” he said.

He further said the ministry will continue coordinating agreement between farmers and processors to buy all locally produced wheat before the importation.

Another strategic priority according to him was increasing the country’s capacity to fight invasive pests and birds such as the desert locusts, larvae, quelea quelea and many others.

“The budget in the area has been increased from 150m/- in 2020/21 to 3bn/- in the 2021/22 fiscal year. An aircraft will be bought to strengthen aerial operations,” he said.

The presented budget shows that out of the 294.162bn/- requested budget, 211.248bn/- will be directed in implementation of development projects and the 82.914bn/- for recurrent expenditure.

The Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Water vice chairman Almas Maige said the committee recommended the government to increase the sector’s budget, empower extension officers and produce better seeds.

The committee advised that the Cashewnuts Industry Development Trust Fund (CIDTF) should be reinstated, challenges on post-harvest losses, provision of loans to small scale farmers and grievances facing cooperative unions should be addressed.

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