AGRICULTURE

by Paul Gooday

National Irrigation Act 2013 to improve food security
Agriculture forms the bedrock of Tanzania’s economy – it accounts for more than one quarter of GDP, provides 85% of exports, and employs about 80% of the workforce. Yet while the country currently has 29.4 million hectares of land that could be irrigated, only 589,245 hectares are actually being irrigated.

The National Irrigation Act 2013 is intended to give agriculture a new lease of life as global weather patterns change. In order to protect the farmers from extreme weather patterns and climate change, Tanzania’s parliament has passed this law aimed at improving irriga­tion and thereby food security, and reducing poverty. The Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives stated that by 2015, at least 25% of food production should come from irrigated land.

The new law establishes the Irrigation Commission, a national body with the mandate to co-ordinate, promote and regulate irrigation activities across the country. There will also be an Irrigation Development Fund created to help irrigation schemes, many of which suffer from financial strain at present. This fund will be used to finance irrigation activities carried out by individual farmers and investors through loans or grants. The law will also establish a system enabling farmers’ groups, individuals, associations and companies to own government-built irrigation infrastructure.

Amendments were made to the initial legislation following concerns raised that it might fuel land conflict. It was argued that this would allow the state to acquire village land without due process. This threat of “land grabs” has been mitigated by ensuring that “communities are key stakeholders not mere spectators” said a legislator from the ruling CCM. (The East African)

DfID invests in tea plantation
One of the projects of DfID (UK Department for International Development)’s new phase of investment in Tanzania is a £7.5m project investing in tea farming in the southern highlands of Tanzania. DfID said the investment would boost the income of more than 3,600 tea farmers in 27 villages.

A further £6.7m will be invested in Kilombero Plantations, a public-private partnership focused on developing the region’s agricultural potential and fostering inclusive, commercially successful agribusinesses aimed at benefitting small-scale farmers. DfID will also sign a £2.5m agreement with Tanzania Electric Supply Company to build a hydropower plant that is expected to boost energy production at Tanzania Tea Packers.

The Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening, explained that these agreements are not about bringing back tied aid. “The onus will continue to be on British companies to show Tanzania, and other developing countries, why their offer is the best one – and I believe they are well placed to do this. The UK has been amongst the international leaders in corporate governance.” (The Guardian – UK)

Call for profitable livestock keeping
The Mara Regional Commissioner (RC), has encouraged herders to realise the benefit of dipping livestock as a means to help make the sector more profitable allowing them to transform their lives.

“I consider livestock keeping as one of the most important things,” he told herders at the rural village of Surubu in the Northern Tarime District recently. He visited the village cattle dip and pledged to support a group of herders taking care of the dip. “Cattle dipping will help prevent ticks from attacking cows, hence improve livestock products,” he explained. He also emphasised the importance of adapting livestock artificial insemination in the region. “Our aim is to invite investors on livestock products and we want the people to change from traditional livestock rearing to zero grazing,” he said.

The regional chief was on a three-day working tour of Tarime where he inspected various projects as well as inaugurating the newly formed Tarime Town Council. There was a call to continue the drive towards reducing cattle rustling. Tarime has of late emerged as one of the fast developing districts in Mara Region, thanks to government for establishing a special police zone which has greatly helped to make the place safe for people to participate in development issues. (AllAfrica.com)

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