A lot of serious thought appears to have gone into the agriculture budget for 2021/22 as tabled in Parliament on Monday by Prof Adolf Mkenda, the minister in charge of the docket.
The budget covers most of the areas that need to worked on so as to genuinely revolutionalise the way Tanzania’s agriculture is conducted.
The fresh drive in the sector seeks to prioritise several areas, including seed development; improving extension services, and increasing the size of land for irrigation farming.
Others are improving access to reliable markets; bolstering research; improving access to loans, and strengthening preparedness against pests and crop diseases.
Moreover, the government is determined to improve infrastructure that can boost productivity in agriculture, which is still Tanzania’s economic mainstay, employing nearly 70 percent of the country’s labour force.
However, agriculture is still characterised by low productivity; lack of markets; vulnerability to a number of negative factors, including diseases and pests; overdependence on rains; lack of capital, creativity and innovation, and negative mindsets.
The strategies outline in Parliament, if well executed, will revolutionalise agriculture, and make it contribute more meaningfully to Tanzania’s development.
Strategies such as research could inform decision making in the sector, while availability of cheap but quality and varied seeds could enable farmers engage more productively in farming. Access to loans would open doors to expansion and modernisation of the sector, while more land for irrigation farming would improve food security and boost agricultural commercialisation.
The new budget, therefore, calls for enhanced discipline and change of mindset among all players. All should be ready to move out of their comfort zones, make sacrifices and work hard and smart to take agriculture to the next level.
We challenge the government and other stakeholders to walk the talk. Money set aside should be made available so that the strategies can be executed fully and effectively.