They were speaking during the closure of the three-day international scientific conference on forest and honeybee products value chains for development of sustainable livelihoods and industrial economy, held in Dar es Salaam last week.
Reports show that Tanzania is endowed with between 33.7 and 48.1 million hectares of forest and woodlands which 55 per cent of the total land area of Tanzania.
Dr Sima Bakengesa, chairman of the conference’s organising committee said in order to achieve this, the stakeholders have agreed to put more effort to support value chain development in forest and honey products.
He said the stakeholders agreed that much effort will be directed to the promotion of factories establishment, research, value addition and marketing.
He said the country’s development of sustainable value chains for forest-based products is critical to ensure social, economic and environmental benefits.
“Forest and honeybee resources in many countries in the world are the main sources of goods and services to the surrounding communities. The benefits provided by forest ecosystems include goods such as timber, food, fuel and bio products; and ecological functions such as carbon storage, nutrient cycling, water and air purification, and maintenance of wildlife habitat,” he noted.
According to him, during the meeting, the stakeholders also agreed together to invest heavily in research, modern factories, value addition, tree planting and a number of works so as to bring transformation of the sectors.
Dr Bakengesa further said if communities could see the potential available in the forest reserves and invest efforts to conserve them, then they could reap big and thus stimulate development.
In his remarks, Director of Beekeeping and Forest Department in the ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Ezekiel Mwakalukwa said the government is going to invest heavily to implement its strategies aimed to transform the forest and honey-bee sectors.
Chief Executive Officer of the Tanzania Forest Service (TFS) Prof Dos Santos Silayo said the institution in collaboration with various stakeholders is well prepared to increase production of value added forest and honey-bee products.
He said TFS will continue to intensify efforts and plant more trees but also fight against deforestation as the county is currently witnessing environmental burdens due to excessive tree cutting.
“We can’t allow deforestation to continue. Impacts of climate change are hitting our country with its impacts that includes loss of forest cover yielding to soil and water source degradation, disruption in rainfall patterns and severe droughts...This should be fought with all our efforts,” he said.
Prof Silayo added: “If our forests are well protected, will bring a number of positive impacts while also benefiting the current and future generations, so every person has a role to ensure that there is no forest cutting, burning and harvesting without having permission from the government.”
Dr Revocatus Mushumbusi, acting director general of the Tanzania Forests Research Institute (TAFORI) said the conference has been productive as it brought together scientists, decision-makers, development partners, diplomatic community, innovators, business community and practitioners from Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan and Finland.
During the meeting, the government launched two 10-year master plans for beekeeping and forest sectors, designed to unlock Tanzania’s potential in honey and timber production, processing and export.
In a speech to launch the National Beekeeping Research Master Plan and the National Forest Research Master Plan in Dar es Salaam, Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan said Tanzania is currently producing way below its capacity and the new strategies seek to change things for the better.
The speech read on her behalf by Tourism and Natural Resources Minister Dr Damas Ndumbaru noted for instance that although Tanzania has a potential to produce over 100,000 tonnes per year, the country manages only 30,000 tonnes.
The vice president commended the ministry for coming up with the strategies calling on key institutions, stakeholders and experts to supervise and support its implementation so as to bring the expected outcomes.
Samia said that despite the potential of forest and beekeeping sectors, rich biodiversity in natural forests, there are a number of constraints that still hinder growth of the sector which include increased destruction of forests fuelled by human activities as low research and development to drive innovations needed to support value chains development among others.