Govt,stakeholders agree to improve production and marketing wheat crop

25Jan 2021
Polycarp Machira
The Guardian
Govt,stakeholders agree to improve production and marketing wheat crop

​​​​​​​WHEAT farmers in the country may soon have a reason to smile as the government and other stakeholders have reached agreement on how to improve production and marketing of wheat locally.

The consensus is that millers in the country reduce importation of wheat and focus on purchasing locally produced one at a minimum price of 800/- per kilogramme. Other measure is for all investors holding state wheat farms to resume large scale production or forfeit the plantations as the government is determined revolutionise wheat production.

Agriculture minister Prof Adolf Mkenda made the announcement here after a meeting that brought together various stakeholders in wheat sub-sector such as millers, traders, farmers and government officials.

According to the minister, private sector and largescale millers including the Tanzania Breweries Limited (TBL) and the Serengeti Breweries Limited (SBL) will now buy wheat from local producers at the same capacity they import, that is if they buy certain percentage outside the country, they will now the same amount locally.

Both TBL and SBL have agreed to sign a contract with the ministry to buy all the wheat produced by local smallholders... We will adopt special legislation to ensure such contracts are valid and respected,” he said.

Tanzania imports between 800,000 and one million tonnes of wheat annually amid availability of arable land and conducive climate to facilitate mass production of the cash crop.

The new agreement reached yesterday also requires millers and other processors to outsource the same volume of wheat from local producers instead of importing.

The Deputy Minister for Agriculture Hussein Bashe said the ministry is planning to spend at least 155bn/- in research and development to improve crop production. He said an additional of 4bn/- is required to procure and supply improved wheat seeds among smallholders.

“The best approach we want to take is to improve communication with the private sector that replaces directives and state controls,” he said insisting the seeds expected to be supplied to farmers is not GMOs.

He said the Agricultural Seeds Agency (ASA) and Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI) is working on to improve the system which includes availability of quality inputs. He went on to explain that a new system is being implemented which will help farmers access financial support at an agreed on the interest rate of 2 per cent.

“CPB for instance, has signed an agreement with farmers to access the input loan at an interest of 2 per cent,” he said.

Yodas Mwanakatwe, Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB) Dodoma zone manager speaking on behalf of the Tanzania Bankers Association assured the minister of the financial institution’s support to improve agricultural activities in the country.

TADB developed a holistic model to support expanded production of wheat in Tanzania. “The wheat value chain as it stands now is benefiting the countries we are importing from a situation which denies us of economic benefits of employment and incomes as well as costing us forex revenue,” said Japhet Justine Managing Director of TADB.

The bank believes the country can have wheat sub-sector which is wholly integrated from research for seed production to production, value addition and trade.

Dr Godwin Wanga, speaking on behalf of the Chairperson for the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) said the government’s approach is likely to propel the country’s economic growth by between 8 and 10 per cent. In addition, he said the measures will create more jobs and open up opportunities for foreign currency through exports.

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