News Column

Let's Sustain Bumper Harvest Trend

July 14, 2014

TANZANIANS are once again assured of a bumper harvest this season. It follows impressive yields recorded last season when the country registered 118 per cent Self Sufficiency Ratio (SSR).

Official records by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives indicate that the volume of maize harvested last year amounted to 5.3 million metric tonnes and rice 1.3 million metric tonnes. In this regard, the nation created surplus and exceeded by far the compulsory grain reserve level of 150,000 metric tonnes.

Food is life and the stable food situation has been enhanced by timely and reliable rainfall received, to the convenience of farming communities and the nation at large.

Again, the decision by the government to sell to Kenya some 201,800 metric tonnes of maize with the first batch of 50,000 metric tonnes from the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) to be released early August, this year, is a generous gesture of caring for a neighbour in need.

The signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the deal, which is scheduled for Arusha in the next few weeks, will pave way for implementation of the agreement.

The favourable weather condition has allowed sharp increase of crop production including rice as the country expects to record more than 1.3 million metric tonnes above that of last harvesting season.

Within the East African Region, the market for farm products is readily available. But our farmers need to be guided when selling their agricultural products and traders usually seen in villages dictating crop prices should be closely monitored. However, from the recorded bumper harvest, a few lessons can be drawn.

It should be remembered that relying on rainfed agriculture is dangerous. It has to be viewed as a game of chance. Erratic weather conditions just for one season can change the entire food reserve equation.

That means adoption of mechanised agriculture coupled with extensive irrigation schemes and application of modern farming techniques is not an option but a necessity.

With regard to storage techniques for family consumption, some additional efforts are needed to remind the community of the importance of food storage to sustain the family throughout the year, instead of being complacent hoping for another bumper harvest which might not happen.

Effective utilisation of our trained extension officers is equally important. Thousands of them still hang around without employment.

Demonstration farms (shamba darasa) should be a common scene in all villages, bearing in mind that a larger section of the community still practised ancient farming with old granaries irrespective of the huge potential of the fertile land. Land is number one provider of employment.

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Source: AllAfrica

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