Hon. Eng. Christopher Chiza (MP), the Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, welcomes his guests, 15 journalists from the United States who had paid a courtesy visit earlier today in his office, in Tazara, Dar es Salaam.
The United States journalists who had paid a courtesy visit to the Honorable Minister Eng. Christopher Chiza. The 15 US journalists are in the country from September 29 to October 9, 2013 through the John Hopkins International Reporting Project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had been devoting most of its time and resources to support any efforts aimed at transforming Africa from poverty eradication through its agriculture sector.
Listening on is Dr. Mary Shetto, Head of the Interim Ministerial Delivery Unit under Big Results Now Initiative. Dr. Shetto is also the Coordinator for SAGCOT.
Also in attendance are Mr. Frank Mhina (left), Foreign Service Officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Job Mika (center), Private Assistant to Hon. Eng. Chiza and Mr. Erick Kabendera, Freelance Journalist.
US journalists listening on to Hon. Eng. Chiza (not in the photo).
Hon. Eng. Christopher Chiza (MP), Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives explains about SAGCOT and Kilimo Kwanza initiatives.
Listening on are the US journalists and other Government officials from Tanzania.
The US team of journalists during the meeting.
Dar lauded for Agricultural First Initiatives
By TAGIE DAISY MWAKAWAGO
The Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Eng. Christopher Chiza (MP), said that Tanzania is first an agricultural-country, placing Southern corridor strategically as a starting point in yielding resources for the country’s economy.
The Minister said earlier today when he was speaking with the 15 journalists from the United States of America, who are in the country to learn more about agriculture sector and food security initiatives.
The journalists have selected Tanzania for an in-depth fact-finding mission because of its notable record on agriculture, food security and scaling-up nutrition initiatives. “We want to learn more about the success of SAGCOT and Kilimo Kwanza,” said Ms. Alexandra Frank, Project Manager from the John Hopkins University, where the group is enrolled in an International Reporting Project (IRP) in Washington DC.
During their discussion, Hon. Eng. Chiza said that the country is blessed with water resources, but still needs a contribution of about 25 percent of agricultural irrigation to self-sustain its economy.
“Our Government has initiated Big Results Now (BRN) which targets an increase of over 100,000 tons of maize and 250,000 tons of sugar and 190,000 tons of rice, all to be added to the national basket through combination of irrigation and improvement of agricultural marketing systems in the coming two years,” said the Minister.
When posed with question about Kilimo Kwanza and how Tanzania has been able to materialize on agriculture sector, Eng. Minister Chiza said that the Government had initiated the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT), as part of implementing Kilimo Kwanza initiative which encompasses broader aspect of green revolution and economic development of the country.
“We are trying to bring in large scale farmers to co-exist with the small scale farmers,” said Minister Chiza, adding that the Government wants the SAGCOT model to be the future replica for other corridors in the countries. The current Southern corridor includes Mbeya, Iringa, Njombe, Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Coast, Rukwa and Ruvuma Region.
The Minister further said that the country’s investment targets its own agriculture production and productivity, and as such, the Government has allocated 10 percent of its National Budget to the agriculture sector, however, its current allocation figure surges steadily at an 8 percent, noted the Minister. The allocation derived from the implementation of the Maputo Declaration which was reached by the heads of state and government of the African Union (AU) at its second ordinary session held between July 10 and 12, 2013 whereby member-states agreed to allocate at least 10 percent of their national budgetary resources to agriculture.
Discussing the success story of the Kilombero rice plantation in Morogoro, Minister Chiza cited statistics of maize production which had increased for some smallholder farmers from 1.5 to 4.5 tons per hectare, while the yields for rice have increased from 2.5 to 6.5 tons per hectare in the target areas.
As for young generation, Minister Chiza said that the Government has put in place a Youth in Agriculture program, which targets young people who are “capable, marketable and have a conducive atmosphere set for them to get employment or employ themselves”. He however acknowledges the need for more investment in science and technology in order to increase farm machineries. “Currently, there is about 70 percent of farmers are still using hand hoe tools and about 64 percent of farmers using tractors,” said the Minister.
In addressing the climate change issue, the Minister said that Tanzania is taking all necessary measures within its capacity in making sure to put in place mitigation and adaptation measures to address challenges brought about by climate change. Tanzania rests on a 945,000 square kilometres and that the rain is therefore limited. “Our goal is to produce more crops suitable for rainy seasons and crops that are drought resistible,” explained Hon. Eng. Chiza.
“Taste can be an issue to some farmers as they tend to grow more maize rather than finding alternative crops to grow that can likely be sustainable and resistible to the particular seasonal-weather,” said the Minister.
The Minister further explained that there is also a need to improve transport network and educate farmers about agro ecological zones and green revolution. “We need long term measures that can address permanent maintenance strategy in order to improve transport network, increase fertilizer use per hectare currently at an 8 kilogram to about 11 kilograms per hectare,” he explained.
The 15 US journalists are in the country from September 29 to October 9, 2013 through the John Hopkins International Reporting Project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had been devoting most of its time and resources to support any efforts aimed at transforming Africa from poverty eradication through its agriculture sector.
The group is expected to wrap up its tour by visiting the KINU Innovation Space in Dar es Salaam, the iAGRI Project at Sokoine University in Morogoro, the One Acre Fund in Iringa and the Oikos East Africa group in Arusha, before returning back to the United States on October 9, 2013.