To transform the agriculture sector in its totality – crop farming, animal husbandry, aquaculture and fisheries from subsistence to commercial- manufacturing and food industry, must become well developed.
For this to happen and be scaled up, agriculture mechanisation and adoption of other science and technology models is the way. This has been apparent for years. In 1979, Tanzania introduced the Agricultural Mechanisation Policy, which sought to bring the economic transformation of people and production methods. It did not work as expected.
Prof Nuhu Hatibu, currently, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) Head for Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda, in a paper published by FAO (2013), wrote that “food production for many continues to be through backbreaking manual labour. This leads to meagre yields per unit of labour…” Since then, how have things changed? We need to ask ourselves.
Recently at the 2020 Annual Agriculture Research Forum and Seed Stakeholder Forum in Arusha, organised by Tanzania Seed Trade Association (TASTA) and the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), Prof Nuhu reiterated that science and technology uptake along the kilimo value chain is what will take agriculture sector at the top, where it should be.
Prof. John Machiwa of the University of Dar es Salaam speaking at the same forum stated that Scientific research and innovation should take control and spearheads agricultural development, for the country to benefit from the expanding world market. For the sector to generate considerable income, the means of production should be technologically improved to be able to effectively contribute to the economy, food security and household livelihood.
How is the situation at the moment? According to him, Tanzania has sound agricultural, science and technology policies, but the problem lies in low investment in the operationalisation of the policies.
He was clear that when both productivity and production are inadequate due to low adherence to appropriate technology, it makes agricultural produce fetch low market prices due to poor quality.
According to Prof. Machiwa “to realise outstanding impacts in the national economy by the agricultural sector, science and technologies need to be developed in a way that is responsive to the present and future challenges, such as weather variability, climate change and the changing demographics, the changing needs of farmers, producers, consumers.”
Taking the message home that, agricultural economy, offers myriad opportunities worldwide, and science and technology offer a way to transform it, for scaling up, he stated:
“Crops, livestock keeping, animal husbandry, aquaculture and fishing as well as insects rearing for food, medicine, ornaments and textile manufacture should be major income-generating activities in the country.”
According to the prof in the drive for greater use of science and technology to agricultural development in Tanzania, areas that needed special attention are farm mechanisation (field clearing, tillage, ploughing, planting, weeding and harvesting), transportation, storage, processing, packaging and access to markets/ consumers.
He credited Tanzania institutions for developing some technologies, which can be scaled up including juice blender, peanut butter making machine; Grain mill; Grain huller; Maise thresher; Animal feed mill and mixer Palm oil processing equipment (boiling tank cum steriliser, digester and clarifier) palm fruit thresher; and palm nutcracker); Filter press; Screw expeller, Sugar processing plant, and so on.
Looking at the scenario presented by Prof. Machiwa, it’s apparent that, as a nation, if we really want to go up in our agriculture development level, the foundation has been set up, and scaling up of technology is the way. We need to support the machinery that has been made in our nation. We need to invest more in kilimo research and adoption of science and technology for big results!
Prof. David Nyange, Policy Advisor, Ministry of Agriculture, stated at the forum that agriculture transformation was taking off in Tanzania and conditions were ripe, where “technology will play a great role in the agriculture sector transformation.” Kilimo stakeholders at all levels need to take note of this and act accordingly for mother Tanzania’s posterity.