Minister bans US fortified foods aid

By Guardian Reporter , The Guardian
Published at 08:36 PM Mar 17 2024
Agriculture minister Hussein Bashe
By Guardian Correspondent
Agriculture minister Hussein Bashe

THE government has directed local and international organizations seeking to provide relief food to schools and other needy spheres of society to procure the grains locally.

Agriculture minister Hussein Bashe issued this instruction at a departmental meeting involving senior ministerial officials and stakeholders held at the weekend in Dar es Salaam, ostensibly to set out the ministry’s priorities and successes during the three years achieved in the past three years of the sixth phase presidency.

The minister showed displeasure with reports circulating on social media that fortified rice, pinto beans and sunflower seed oil from the United States were being distributed as relief food to schools in Dodoma and Mara regions. 

The reports noted that beyond providing nutritious meals, students at the over 300 participating schools, will also start school gardens applying rainwater harvesting techniques.

Officials said that as a fully replicable model, this programme reflects the US government’s commitment to fostering health, education and opportunity for children across the globe.

The donation has been provided under as unified feeding initiative backed by the US Department of Agriculture working with food security and children nutrition support non-governmental organisations.

The minister said that importers should not have brought the food aid as the country has enough rice and beans, hinting that the ministry has instructed the relevant NGO “to tell the Americans that we have sufficient food, so the funds which they pay the US farmers should be given to Tanzanian farmers.”

“Let us purchase the maize, beans and rice from our local farmers and if there are additional nutritional foods needed, this should be followed up in the country,” he stated.

He praised notable success in agriculture during the sixth phase government, noting that budget allocations stood at 290bn/- and increased to 750bn/- and later 970bn/- in the respective budget years.

“But in the next fiscal year budget, is to grow into more than 1trn/- from the current 970.7bn/-. This will increase crop production and reduce unnecessary importation costs,” he said.

He said the government injected 6bn/- and later 40bn/- to the Tanzania Fertilizer Co. (TFC) to revive its operations, wits its working capital rising to 116bn/-, thus counting among ten leading companies in distributing fertilizers countrywide.

Last year, the government launched a seven-year project to drill 67,000 water boreholes to support small-scale farmers in rural areas, involving installation of a 5000 litre water tank to facilitate farming throughout the year.

Upwards of 70 percent of the population relies on the agriculture sector, accounting for an estimated 28 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), the minister added.