Make Kilimo Kwanza national agenda, journalists challenged
By Felister Peter
3rd September 2009
The Tanzanian media has been challenged to make Kilimo Kwanza, the country’s blueprint for an agricultural revolution, a national agenda and give it positive coverage.
The challenge was issued in Dar es Salaam yesterday by the Chairman of the Media Owners Association of Tanzania (MOAT), Reginald Mengi at a media sensitization forum on the programme, spelling out the country’s resolve to bring about a green revolution.
Mengi is also a member of Kilimo Kwanza mass sensitization committee.
THE MOAT Chairman asked the media to play the crucial role of ensuring that the country’s resolve to undertake Kilimo Kwanza (Agriculture First) is correctly understood by everyone.
He insisted that the current plan did not reflect the past agricultural development initiatives because it has its own major components, and provided for full participation of the private sector in its implementation.
“We should make this a national agenda and give it positive coverage. As Tanzanians we are sailing in the same boat and belong to the Agriculture First vision for poverty reduction”, he said.
He further urged people to change their attitudes towards agriculture so that it retains its respect within societies, insisting that it is wrong to keep in mind the misguided perception that agriculture is meant for poor and uneducated people, because the current plan has provided room for small, medium and large scale cultivation.
Mengi said there were possibilities for the country’s economy to grow through full utilization of the available agricultural opportunities and private sector participation.
To this end, he said, agriculture is the best instrument for development as it provides raw materials for industries and food.
Giving an overview of the programme, the Chairman of Agriculture Council of Tanzania (ACT) Salum Shamte said the Agriculture First concept will only be understood and succeed through the media publicity.
Shamte said the government has agreed to provide one per cent of its Gross Domestic Product for agricultural research, which will mainly focus on quality animal and crop seeds, local and international markets and fertilizers suited to the country’s soil and weather.
He said the vision doesn’t focus on agriculture only but also livestock, fishing and forestry, adding that the aim is to make agriculture grow by 10 per cent instead of 4 per cent per annum.
Shamte said through its components there will also be industrial development whereby the focus has been put on fertilizer and agro processing industries, and that the processing factories are likely to add value to export products and reduce the quantity of wasted harvests which is between 40 to 45 per cent.
The Chairman of Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) Felix Mosha who is also the chairman of Agriculture implementation committee in the Tanzania National Business Council (TNBC) said the country can only use agriculture to penetrate the global economy.
Mosha said it is high time for the government to create an environment to enable more people engage in agriculture as the global economy is now favourable to agriculture.
Chairperson of the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) Ester Mkwizu said through agriculture and livestock improvement, Tanzanians can easily dominate international markets.
She said her office is preparing a farmers tracing plan whereby every farmer will be required to provide necessary information on location and the types of crops he cultivated or livestock he kept.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Marketing Joyce Mapunjo said the government is determined to ensure that Agriculture First vision becomes a reality through establishment of agro processing industries.
Mapunjo said they are currently looking into alternatives to make sure that markets are available for every produced crop. She said the concept is likely to succeed because the private sector has been fully involved.
Former president of the Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (TCCIA) Elvis Musiba said that Tanzania should learn from other countries like Vietnam, which is currently leading in rice export worldwide.
Musiba said Vietnam started to implement its agriculture development strategy in 1990 and by the year 2000 it was earning USD 3.2bn/- per year only by exporting rice.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN