He insisted that to ensure successfully implementation of the Agricultural Sector Development Programme (ASDP II) there should efforts to find out solutions to the many challenges facing cotton farmers.
The ASDP II is aimed at addressing critical constraints and challenges to sector performance and to speed up agriculture gross domestic product to improve growth of smallholder incomes and ensure food security by 2025.
Majaliwa made the remarks in Mwanza recently during the official opening of Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank Limited (TADB) branch in the city. He also handed over 16 tractors to farmers’ cooperative unions.
He urged the unions to prepare good regulations as well as introduction of new services that will directly benefit farmers.
He asserted that the government plan is to move from traditional to commercial agriculture where emphasize has been put on six crops namely, oil palm trees, cotton, sisal, sunflower, coffee and cashew nut.
Majaliwa noted that enhanced cultivation of oil palm trees, sunflower and cotton will help boost the country’s production of cooking oil, hence save $ 460 million which is spent to import cooking oil annually.
According to him some of the challenges that cotton farmers face include delayed distribution of agricultural inputs, poor quality seeds and use of old cultivation methods.
“I want you to fully support farmers, extension officers should visit farms and talk to farmers. We should produce cotton to be able to establish textile factories”, said PM.
TADB executive director, Japhet Justine said the bank, since its establishment in 2015 with a capital of 60bn/- only has managed to support a good number of farmers through soft loans.
It has been able to grow its capital to 68bn/- (13 per cent), he said.
Justine explained that the bank has issued strategic loans amounting to 100.7bn/- whereby 31.4bn/- have been re-paid. He said loans granted to cotton farmers have 6.6bn/-.
He said that to improve coffee cultivation, TADB invested some 30bn/- which was disbursed through farmers cooperative unions. He said 10bn/- was directed on paddy farming while 800bn/- was invested in the establishment of sunflower and meat processing factories in Mwanza city.
Agriculture Deputy minister, Innocent Bashungwa said the government is optimistic that cotton farming will be improved further with TADB’s financial support.