Farmers call for more budget allocation in agric sector

19Nov 2019
Gerald Kitabu
The Guardian
Farmers call for more budget allocation in agric sector

SMALLHOLDER farmers have suggested the need for the government to increase budget allocation in the agricultural sector to increase crop production per acreage.

They made the call recently when speaking at the national agriculture people budget summit that was held in Dodoma under the theme: ‘Unlocking opportunities for agricultural growth and transformation through inclusive budget delivering’.

The summit brought together different stakeholders together to deliberate on the importance on the quantity and quality investment in the agriculture sector in Tanzania.  They were farmers, Agric Coalition, Parliamentarian, government officials from Agriculture sector Lead Ministries (ASLM), Media and Social Media.

They also called on the government to increase the number of agro extension officers saying the 2013 agricultural policy stipulates very clearly that each village must have extension officer. The ration is supposed to be 1:600 instead of the current situation where one extension officer serves more than one village or the whole ward. At the moment, shortage stands at 40 percent. The government should also improve their working conditions.

“We advice the government to enforce laws that directs local governments to set aside 60 percent of own source revenues for internal development activities. This fund will help solve shortage of extension officers. The small holder farmers also advised levies from crops, Livestocks and fisheries should be reinstated to the respective sectors,” said Janeth Nyamayahasi a farmer from Kisanga village, Chamwino District, Dodoma Region

Representing farmers who attended the meeting, Janeth suggested the need for the government to increase water engineers to help irrigation agriculture and rain water harvesting for small holder farmers

Farmers also recommended that demo plots that had stopped in some village should be reinstated at every hamlet and village so that the farmers can continue learning new technologies and improve production.

They farmers asked the government to make sure that the inputs are improved is made available to them on time and they should be adequate and affordable. 

“We are requesting the government to make sure that importations of the agricultural inputs are controlled especially fake seeds and pesticides. The government should improve domestic industries to be able to produce better and high quality agricultural inputs rather than depending on the imported inputs which, at times they are harmful or not useful,” she said.

Besides agricultural inputs, the government should also control and ensure improved packages.

About financial services, the farmers called on the government to make sure that they have direct access to financial services from Banks such as TADB, TIB etc 

“The government should also review 10 percent given to women, youth and people with disability given the fact that big number of these groups is involved in agriculture.”

She also reminded the Deputy Minister for Agriculture Hussein Bashe on the importance of reasonable investments in agriculture and the need for the comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) which is the continental policy framework for agricultural transformation, wealth creation, food security and nutrition, economic growth and prosperity for all nations.

Janeth explained that the agriculture sector has a crucial role to play in the long-term development of most African countries.

Executive Director for Agricultural Non State Actors Forum (ANSAF) Audax Rukonge explained that it aimed at enhancing meaningful policy and institutional supporting systems for a fertilize ground for  public and private investment in agriculture, agri-business and agro-industries.

Rukonge said that the objectives of the summit is to discuss successes and challenges related to agricultural policy delivery (including budget, policies and practices) in relationship to smallholder producers, women and youth in particular.

Chairman of Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Water and Livestock, Mahamoud Mgimwa stressed the importance of agricultural sector for Tanzania saying it employs between 65 percent to 70 percent and a source of raw materials for industrial development.

Tanzania has decided to venture into industrial economy. That means if agriculture will not be given required investment, it will be difficult to achieve this goal, he said.

“As Parliamentarians and as your representatives we have the responsibility to push the government to allocate adequate budget for agriculture. We value small holder farmers. We always insist that the budget making processes should start at the grassroots level. We shall make sure that the government implements the Malabo declaration and improves agriculture investments and infrastructures. In fact, we are taking on board all your concern and recommendations seriously,” he said.      

He said the Parliament will ensure that agricultural inputs reach the farmers on time and that the farmers have accesses to loans.

Deputy Minister for Agriculture Hussein Bashe promised to work on the farmers’ demand by ensuring availability of agricultural inputs, farmers crop insurance, availability of agro-extension officers and loans. “It is undisputable that if you want to build a strong economy, you must consider agriculture because it employs many people especially women and youth,” he said.

“There are many countries that have developed but their people are poor because large number of the population is not involved in the sector that contributes much to the nation’s economy. As the government, we are aware of this and we are working on it.”

“The government is investing in infrastructure deliberately because we want the farmers in the rural areas to be able to ferry their products and crops easily to the market centres. So, when we define investment in agriculture, we should not only look at agricultural inputs and equipments but also other supporting sectors like infrastructures.

“We as the government, we shall ensure we build conducive environment for agriculture to be attractive to investors and small holder farmers,” he said.