Agriculture deputy minister, Hussein Bashe made the statement yesterday in the National Assembly when responding to a question by Kigoma North MP, Assa Makanika, who wanted to know the government’s commitment towards investing itself in the oil palm crop, instead of leaving it to the councils to address the oil shortage in the country.
In his response, Bashe said that in the period 2019/20 to 2020/21, it has invested 5.8bn/- for the development of palm oil.
He said until January 31, this year, a total of 2,244,935 improved oil palm seedlings were produced and 1,456,111 seedlings were disbursed to farmers in all district councils in Kigoma Region.
“A total of 788,824 seedlings were expected to be distributed to farmers in the 2021/2022 farming season,” he said.
The deputy minister noted that the country’s demand of edible oil is estimated to be 570,000 tonnes annually, while the country’s production is estimated to be 205,000 tonnes, and the deficit is at an average of 365,000 tonnes. The situation has been compelling the government to spend an average of 474bn/- to import cooking oil yearly.
“As it is to other crops, the government invests in research, production and access to agricultural inputs, extension services, crop pest control and market exploration,” he said.
He further said in implementing the strategy, the government has been working with various stakeholders including local government authorities and the private sector.
As part of the strategy for self-sufficiency of edible oil, he said that in 2018 the government decided to establish a special research center for Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI)-Kihinga Center for oil palm in Kigoma region to develop the crop more effectively.
TARI-Kihinga Centre in collaboration with Agricultural Seed Agency (ASA), district councils, private sector in researching, producing improved oil palm seedlings and distribute to farmers.
“The government will continue to involve public and private sector stakeholders to develop palm oil and other seed crops to enable the country to be self-sufficient in edible oil," Bashe said.