NFRA chief executive officer Milton Lupa made the revelation yesterday when briefing journalists on the agency’s performances in five years. He attributed the increase in food storage capacity with construction of 56 food storage facilities and 9 modern food warehouses with the capacity to store 250,000.
“Implementation of the project for construction of food storage facilities has now reached 75 percent, it will be completed in the 2020/21 financial year,” he said.
According to him, the normal facilities can store food for three years without losing quality, insisting the newly constructed food storage warehouses can store food for more than five years without losing quality.
Lupa noted that the agency has been working around the clock to ensure the country’s food security through purchasing enough food from farmers as well as selling food to some parts of the country facing food shortage challenges.
“We have sold food to different municipalities and districts which experienced food shortage, the monies collected were used to purchase more food from farmers,” he informed.
He said NRFA has been able to earn foreign currencies by selling food to neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe and the World Food Programme (WFP). He said food sold to WFP was distributed to various African countries.
Lupa said that Tanzania through the agency donated food to Malawi and South Sudan which faced food shortage challenges caused by natural disasters including floods.
He added that the agency has been contributing into the country’s economic growth through the purchase of crops from farmers and farmer’s groups at better prices, thus improving farmer’s welfare. He said the agency has also been contributing to municipal revenues by paying various levies when purchasing crops from farmers.
He said when buying crops from farmers, the agency provided jobs to a number of young Tanzanians whereas a total of 7,000 youth were employed in the previous season.
NRFA collaborates with farmers’ cooperative unions to train farmers on how to properly store harvested food, he said.
According to Lupa, they have been supporting the private sector whereas most of food preservation facilities are bought from local manufacturers. He said that the private sector is also involved in transportation of the purchased crops.
He said plans are to continue expanding the agency’s food storage capacity as well as looking for more internal and international markets.
NFRA operates under the Ministry of Agriculture for purposes of guaranteeing national food security during food shortage. It came into effect in July, 2008 taking over responsibilities of the former Strategic Grain Reserve.