News Column

Food Security Beefed Up as Production Increases

May 12, 2014

Antony Tambwe

FOOD availability in the country has continued to stabilise, with the sector recording a 4.3 per cent growth in the financial year 2013/2014.

According to a survey conducted between July and August, last year, food crop production in 2012/2013 rose to 14,383,845 tonnes, which was in excess of the national requirement of 12,149,120 tonnes.

Tabling his ministry's 2014/2015 budget proposals in the National Assembly, Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Eng. Christopher Chiza, said that food excess included 354,015 tonnes of maize and 466,821 tonnes of rice.

He said at the beginning of the 2013/2014 season, the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) had a reserve of 25,453 tonnes of food, adding that in the same period the agency purchased an additional 219,377 tonnes, bringing the amount of excess food to 244,830 tonnes.

The minister said this food security was brought about by good rains in most parts of the country, adding that for the 2014/2015 season excess food tonnage was expected to increase.

He said initial reports indicated that East African countries recorded good rainfall, therefore there was a possibility that Tanzania would not be selling food to them.

The minister said during the 2013/2014 period, availability of farming implements was still problematic and insufficient, but assured the House that the government would increase production of quality seeds and encourage the private sector to invest in the procurement of farming implements.

He said the ministry, through the Agricultural Seed Agency (ASA), produced 3,495 tonnes of quality seeds, 17,520,000 cassava seedlings and 55,165,251 fruit seedlings.

"For the 2014/2015 season, ASA expects to produce 4,200 quality vegetable seed varieties, 16 million cassava seedlings and 15 million fruit seedlings," said Mr Chiza.

He said the government would monitor business people who import substandard pesticides, adding that the culpritswould face stern action, including revocation of their trading licences and destruction of impounded substandard consignments.

The minister further pointed out that sisal production had increased from 23,344 tonnes in 2012/2013 to 41,104 tonnes in 2013/2014, saying the increase was motivated by an increase in prices on the world market, which increased from 1,458 US dollars per tonne in 2012/2013 to 1,460 US dollars per tonne in 2013/2014.

Mr Chiza said increase in sisal production was also prompted by an increase in demand for the commodity in countries such as Saudi Arabia, England, Spain, Nigeria, Germany, Syria, China, Japan, Kenya and Kuwait.

He said, according to an initial survey conducted in March, this year, there was also a drastic increase in tobacco production, from 74,240 tonnes produced in the 2012/2013 season to 100,000 tonnes in 2013/2014, adding that the increase was also brought about by a price hike on the world market.

The minister, however, warned that the sector was facing several challenges, including inadequate availability of farm implements.

"The government has focused its efforts on easy availability of farm implements through primary societies to avoid unnecessary losses for farmers and their having to incur exorbitant expenses," said the minister.

He said his ministry planned to increase rice production in various schemes under the Systems of Rice Intensification (SRI) project.

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Source: AllAfrica

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