In the light of President Kikwete’s failure to uphold the rule of law in the Silverdale Farm case, the private sector will not want to invest in agriculture in Tanzania.
Kikwete touts private sector participation in agriculture
Details Published on Saturday, 18 February 2012 05:20 Written by BILHAM
PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete has called for Africa to expedite the process of engaging the private sector in a bid to boost agriculture which is key to economic development in the continent. Addressing participants to a meeting of agriculture
ministers from seven African countries in Dar es Salaam on Friday, he noted that small-scale farmers in Africa lack access to modern inputs, face climate change challenges and remain locked out of international markets.
Under the initiative, clusters of profitable agribusinesses would be promoted to incorporate small-scale farmers, the government, bilateral and multilateral companies for food security, production of surplus and eradication of poverty, he said. “Participation of the private sector in agriculture will link farmers to modern supply chains and make agriculture a profitable activity through food production and lift millions of people out of poverty,” President Kikwete said. The need for reliable agricultural output cannot be overemphasized as without agriculture there will be no food, no life and the process towards poverty eradication will be complicated, he added. “Cognizant of these facts, African leaders have taken the initiative to open door for application of science and technology, accessibility to finance capital to farmers and supply of farm inputs to producers of crops,” he said.
Citing an example of the country’s level of commitment to transform agriculture, the president mentioned Mbeya, Iringa, Rukwa, Ruvuma, Morogoro and Kigoma regions have already identified huge agriculture potential and the government is currently geared towards transformation of agriculture from subsistence economy to profit making endeavour. “The establishment of Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor (SAGCOT) and Kilimo Kwanza (green revolution) initiatives by Tanzania received great compliments during World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Ethiopia and Dar es Salaam respectively recently.
More countries in the continent proved the dedication to improved agriculture through shared knowledge and expertise,” he explained. African countries South of Sahara with great enthusiasm to fight poverty through agriculture include Kenya, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia Mozambique, Ghana and Tanzania. All are represented at the meeting to set a common agenda to be presented at the G8 summit slated for Chicago, USA, in May, this year.
The US Ambassador to Tanzania, Dr Alfonso Lenhardt, expressed full support of his country in support of the direction taken by African countries to allow more involvement of the private sector in agriculture development.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) representative to Tanzania, Ms Diana Tempelman, said the meeting had been convened at the appropriate time as FAO and other stakeholders continue discussions on best strategies to rid majority of rural farming communities out of poverty. In the WEF meeting in Davos, Switzerland, last month, Norwegian Minister for Environmental and International Development, Erik Solheim, announced Norway’s support to the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor (SAGCOT) secretariat and the Catalytic Investment
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) had already announced a two million US dollars investment
into the Corridor’s USD 50 million catalytic fund. USAID is considering additional investments in the southern corridor, according to USAID administrator for Tanzania, Mr Rajiv Shah. SAGCOT is supported by a public-private partnership of global agriculture businesses, international development agencies, farmers’ groups and the Government of Tanzania.
It promises a transformation in the fortunes of hundreds of thousands of Tanzanian farmers. Earlier, the Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Prof Jumanne Maghembe, said although growth rate of the sector has been 4.2 per cent, nearly 80 per cent of Tanzanians (31 million people) depend on agriculture for their livelihood and the sector provides 95 per cent of all the food consumed locally, 34 per cent of Foreign
Exchange earnings and contribute 24 per cent of GDP. “Factors behind low performance of the sector include limited use of improved seeds, fertilizers, and control of pests and diseases, little attention to proper agronomic practices, minimal investment, poor rural infrastructure, markets and high post-harvest loses,” the minister explained. However, it was agreed that involvement of the private sector, both local and international, would increase the horizon for research work on high yield seeds, supply of fertilizers, pesticides, extension of financial services and accessibility to markets.
The meeting that ended on Friday set up agenda for creating a green revolution for Africa, ensuring food security for all in Africa, creating surplus to make the continent a significant player in the world commodity markets and fight to eliminate poverty in the face of Africa.