Tanzania Daily News | 6 May 2010
by Finnigan Wa Simbeye
5 May 2010
Dar Es Salaam — MAJOR agriculture projects to be executed in the southern highland regions, the country main food basket, are underway. President Jakaya Kikwete said in Dar es Salaam that the government and the private sector are on the drawing board for the ambitious projects whose costs are yet to be known.
Mr Kikwete who was addressing local and foreign media attending the 20th edition of World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa Conference which begun today, said the corridor which runs between Rukwa region through Mbeya, Iringa, Ruvuma and Morogoro has huge potential to feed the country if necessary investment was made.
"This area has huge agriculture potential and we want to partner with the private sector to invest in this area heavily," said President Kikwete who was accompanied by International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), President Dr Kanayo Nwanze, said.
Reiterating his government's commitment to work with the private sector in reviving the country's major employment sector, the president said a joint project team was likely to be formed by the two sides in August.
Agriculture contributes about 45 per cent to Tanzania's gross domestic product, while employing over 70 per cent of the population, is dominated by smallholder subsistence farmers who lack capital, expertise and technology.
Mr Kikwete decried over-reliance on rain fed farming. He also said only 10.5 million hectares of arable land is under cultivation out of over 44 million hectares. The president said while supporting smallholder subsistence farmers grow, his government has now decided to work with the private sector in large scale farming and Tazara corridor was the starting point.
"When we come to Davos next year, we will have the projects in progress," he said.
IFAD President Dr Nwanze said his institution and African Development Fund would provide over 160 million US dollars to help assist the country's agricultural sector. Dr Nwanze said most rural farmers were not making enough money from their produce, which was on high demand globally because of poor infrastructure and lack of market information. He said IFAD would address the issues.
"The smallholder producer of Africa despite the fact that its produce is in demand, doesn't make money out of it," Dr Nwanze noted.
He said since 1970s IFAD has been working with Tanzania government in various projects worth 270 million US dollars to develop smallholder farming.