Low investment in agriculture irks MPs

10Apr 2021
Getrude Mbago
The Guardian
Low investment in agriculture irks MPs

MEMBERS of Parliament yesterday raised concerns on the poor commitment and low investment level in the agriculture sector, warning that the trend could affect the national industrialization drive.

Debating the 114.8trillion/- Third Five Year Development Plan (FYDP-III), the legislators urged the government to take effective measures to improve the sector.

They said the country’s agricultural sector has been hit by a number of challenges with the government failing to show its commitment to address the setbacks.

West Singida MP Elibariki Kingu said the government should invest heavily in modern irrigation schemes so as to lure more Tanzanians to engage in farming.

He said the government should also offer incentives to sunflower farmers to encourage them to venture into cultivating the crop thus saving the billions used to import edible oil.

“Sunflower is grown all over the country, mostly by small-scale farmers. Therefore the development of the sector has a great potential for improving livelihoods and the welfare of  poorer households…what is needed mostly here is determination and commitment to transform its cultivation,” he said.

If the country could wake up and decide to invest in research, quality seeds and technology, millions of Tanzanians could enjoy a better life and forget the hurdles of poverty, he stated.

He cited sunflower as among crops which the country needs to focus upon, underlining that many farmers were still locked away from the potentials that comes from the crop because they lack quality seeds.

Available statistics show that Tanzania spends over 400bn/- per year to import edible oil, an amount which exceeds annual expenditure on agriculture, he said, pointing at the huge potential to produce eduble oil from sunflower, cotton seeds and several other plants.

Nominated MP Humphrey Polepole hinted in a similar direction calling for greater commitment by the government to invest in commercial agriculture, pointing out that as the country is implementing the industrialization drive, investing in agribusiness and agro-processing was crucial.

He urged that durable measures be taken to connect farmers directly with market opportunities inside and outside the country.

The government has to make efforts and invest in information and communication technologies so as to ensure that farmers and traders have access to accurate market information to be able to sell their produce and adequately benefit from the sector, he said.

Dr Charles Kimei (Vunjo) urged the government to establish a National Credit Guarantee Scheme so as to enable more Tanzanians to access loans and capital at low interest rate and thus initiate income generating activities for the country’s development.

The government needs to stop borrowing much in the local financial institutions as this hinders those institutions from effectively extending credit to the public, he added.

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