AGRICULTURE

by Ben Taylor

Fertiliser subsidies announced
There was much relief among farmers in Tanzania when the government announced measures that mean they will enjoy a large subsidy over fertiliser during the 2022/23 season. This was revealed as President Samia Suluhu Hassan launched a subsidy programme in August.

A bag of DAP fertiliser that was previously sold for TSh 131,675 will now cost TSh 70,000 only, while that of Urea, which used to fetch TSh 124,714, will also cost TSh 70,000 only. Other types of fertiliser see similar price reductions as a result of the subsidy.

The measure acts as both a cushion against rising fertiliser prices linked to rising fuel prices, and as a driver of the government’s “Agenda 10/30” that aims to attain 10% annual growth rate for the agriculture sector by 2030. The current annual growth rate is around 2%.

Speaking in Mbeya, President Hassan urged farmers to make better use of the opportunity by increasing agricultural efficiency and yields for domestic consumption and export.

“While the government has set aside funds for fertiliser subsidy, I would like to ask farmers to cultivate commercially to enable us harvest enough food so we will export the surplus,” she said in a televised address. “Generated funds should enable us establish the Agriculture Development Fund (ADF) for providing assistance to farmers during fertilizer and inputs price shocks.”

The President also directed regional, district, ward and village leaders to closely monitor farmer registration so as to identify beneficiaries. “For efficient implementation of the programme, I should insist that all fertiliser bags must be properly labelled and every firm registered to supply subsidised fertilizer should identify its agents in regional and district levels,” she instructed.

“The ministries of Agriculture as well as Finance and Planning should ensure subsidy funds are released on time ahead of farming seasons,” she added.

The fertiliser subsidy programme comes within just weeks after the government more than tripled the budget for agriculture from TSh 251 billion in the 2021/22 financial year to TSh 951 billion in 2022/23.

“It is now clear that agriculture will grow at an enhanced rate. The focus on irrigation means that ours will now be a sustainable agriculture as opposed to the one that is dependent on rain,” said Jacqueline Mkindi, chairperson of the Agricultural Council of Tanzania. She added that the private sector believed the government was going in the right direction as far as the agricultural sector was concerned.