Dar es Salaam. Yesterday, agriculture stakeholders explained the importance of Farm Clinic in transforming agriculture in the country.
The initiative was launched by the Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa, in the Mbeya region aimed at bringing together key agriculture stakeholders, an idea born out of the Mwananchi Thought Leadership Forum (MTLF).
Farm Clinic is a continuation idea of the MTLF event organized in 2019 by Mwananchi Communications Limited (MCL) under the theme: “Our Agriculture, Our Lifeline”.
Speaking to The Citizen yesterday, MCL Managing Director Mr Bakari Machumu said that the 2019 event which was attended by then Agriculture Minister Mr Japhet Hasunga was behind from Farm Clinic.
“Various stakeholders made valuable contributions during the event and the Minister committed to work on the recommendations. But, the question was whether MTLF will discuss without making implementation plans from stakeholders?” he said.
“We have started publishing ‘Seeds of Gold’ and ‘Mbegu ya Dhahabu’ in the respective English and Swahili editions of the company,” he added.
According to him, the initiative has not ended people’s thirst for acquiring enough knowledge about agricultural practices, including inputs, seeds and accurate information from credible sources.
“Therefore, Farm Clinic aims to extend the problems of MTLF in a practical way. Particular crops will be chosen from the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (Tari) where there are demonstration farms to apply best practices to farmers and other stakeholders,” he said.
According to him, Farm Clinic provides a platform for the Ministry of Agriculture which has policies, strategies and experts to communicate with farmers and other stakeholders.
“What does that mean? For a farmer to grow certain crops, he is supposed to be aware of soil health, proper seeds and proper weather conditions, which is Tari’s responsibility for research,” he said.
“They may need capital for agribusiness and that’s where the banks come in. Farmers will have to harvest, store, market and transact. The initiative is obligated to bring stakeholders together in one hub and hold an in-depth dialogue about a particular culture,” he added.
He said that during the dialogue, farmers and stakeholders will have the opportunity to discuss the seeds, the amount of yields produced and different important information such as the weather.
Mr Machumu said this is where the company’s partnership with Vodacom Tanzania needs to work in providing farmers with information and fast transactions.
He said Farm Clinic requires knowing how to do it and building skills in different areas such as soil health, types of seeds, type and amount of fertilizer, harvesting methods, market availability, etc.
“This is how Farm Clinic builds capacity by providing information that we believe is power for them to improve. This is a phased initiative that will be implemented in accordance with the strategic plans established by the Ministry of Agriculture,” he said.
Mr. Machumu said that MCL is committed to organizing four agricultural clinic sessions, including a symposium organized in Mbeya on the theme: 10/30 Agenda Agriculture is a business.
He said the initiative will be held in Tari’s Centers of Excellence for different crops such as grapes in the central area; cotton in the lake area; coffee in the North Zone dependent on the Ministry of Agriculture.
“In his closing remarks, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Anthony Mavunde suggested that another forum would engage other stakeholders such as the Bank of Tanzania (BoT), other financial institutions, concessionaires in health, education and infrastructure,” he said in a cellphone interview.
“It is a challenge that has been taken up for us to organize another major national dialogue involving many actors in agriculture. The ministry will also incorporate stakeholder opinion collected during the Farm Clinic into its implementation strategies,” he said.
Yesterday, the Seed Inspector of the Official Seed Certification Institute of Tanzania (TOSCI), Mr. Emmanuel Mwakatobe, said that it was a great privilege that the event was launched by the Prime Minister.
Proof that this is a serious initiative intended to revolutionize the country’s agriculture and achieve the 10/30 agenda, according to him.
“The initiative will bring productivity as it will address the various questions and challenges farmers have faced. More importantly, provide them with better access to agricultural information,” he said.
“The agricultural clinics will build the capacity of farmers and other stakeholders. They will change their mindset, expose them to new technologies because modern technology and the Farm Clinic are inseparable,” he added.
But, Dr. Joel Meliyo of Tari said Farm Clinic will help in the efficient functioning of agricultural technology centers located in different parts of the country.
“Agricultural clinics will be a better catalyst for disseminating information and technology to stakeholders as well as collecting feedback in a two-way information dissemination method,” he said.
According to him, if there are new varieties of seeds, agricultural practices, etc. that would increase productivity, they will be easily and efficiently communicated to farmers and stakeholders.
“In order to achieve 10% growth, we need to use technology, improved seeds, agro-mechanisation, irrigation and link producers to reliable markets. Therefore, Farm Clinic is going to be a hub for all of this to happen,” he said.
During the symposium, the Director of Economic Statistics at the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Mr. Daniel Masolwa said that Tanzania can achieve 10/30 before 2030.
“It’s because the government’s strategies and plans are well established. They started to be seen this year through the agriculture budget. Almost a trillion has been allocated to the sector, which is a huge sum,” he said.
He said this year’s census is necessary for resource mobilization and understanding of the country’s real demand for agricultural production.
“What I consider shameful is importing cooking oil and sugar, while losing job creation opportunities,” he said.
“Sugar and edible oil could be produced domestically and bailout funds used for import. The country’s labor force is estimated at 60%, which is why importing sugar and edible oil takes jobs outside the country,” he said.
“As a result, our people remain inactive and are forced to engage in informal activities. They could be engaged in agriculture and save the money that was meant to go outside,” he said.
According to him, the surplus products produced could be exported and attract foreign currency which, in addition to strengthening the trade balance, allows the country to consolidate its foreign currency reserves.