The Department of Research and Training (DRT) in the Ministry of Agriculture has recently prepared a comprehensive new Research Plan. This Plan has been developed to ensure that Tanzania’s limited resources are focused on the most important technical problems constraining agricultural production. The Plan was developed with the financial assistance of Germany, the Netherlands, and the united Kingdom and the professional assistance of the International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR). The plan was completed in 1991.

The Research Masterplan was launched by the Government of Tanzania during a Workshop held in the Kilimanjaro Hotel, Dar es Salaam in March 1992. This launching was effected with the help of the Special Program for African Agricultural Research (SPARR). SPAAR was established in 1985 by 23 donor members to strengthen African agricultural research systems through the launching and start-up of a collaborative plan of priority agricultural research.

The Government has established a Consultation Group with its donor representatives in Dar es Salaam. This Group is called regularly into session by the DRT to discuss implementation plans and financing needs.

The Department of Research and Training are now putting the finishing touches to their detailed commodity research programme plans, to their plans for using some of the surplus research stations for alternative purposes and to the redeployment of some scientific and support staff from low to high priority research stations. Tanzania is fortunate to have one of the largest and best-trained teams in Africa (more than 350 graduates with over 10% holding a doctorate degree).

There is a new mood of optimism and enthusiasm in the air at Temeke (the old headquarters of the Tanzania Livestock Research organisation and now DRT’s HQ near Dar es Salaam) and one can anticipate that this new consolidation and focus of effort will pay dividends in the years to come.

However, this new enthusiasm is likely to be difficult to sustain without rapid action by Government to reform its civil service with significant improvement of salaries and rewards for exceptional work. At present, Tanzanian scientists, including those with PhD and many years experience are paid little more than an attendance fee, needing to supplement their salaries with other work. No useful agricultural research system can ever function with part-time scientists. The long-awaited reform is coming but maybe not in time to stop the emigration of those who can find an incentive salary elsewhere.

This new initiative by Tanzania to consolidate the support of its donor community (about 16 SPAAR members now finance research in Tanzania) behind its new Research Plan is exciting and should help Tanzania develop its agricultural production with resulting benefits all round of greater food security and more foreign exchange earned.
Andrew Spurling

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