Njombe Regional Commissioner Champions ‘Tanzania’s Potential to Feed Africa’ Initiative

By Neema Munisi

TANZANIA: The abundant surplus of food crops in the Njombe, Iringa, and Ruvuma Regions is poised to play a pivotal role in elevating Tanzania’s status as a potential food supplier for the African continent. This surge in agricultural productivity holds the promise of turning President Samia Hassan’s audacious vision of ‘Tanzania can feed Africa’ by 2030 into a reality.

In an address last October during a two-day conference convened to strategize on ways to bolster crop production across these three regions, Njombe Regional Commissioner Hon. Anthony Mtaka passionately emphasized that the once seemingly distant dream of significantly increasing food and cash crop yields in these areas has now become an attainable objective. The key to this transformation, according to Hon. Mtaka, lies in forging strong partnerships with the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) and in facilitating the adoption of effective agricultural practices among small-scale farmers.

Hon. Mtaka pointed out that SAGCOT, with its wealth of experience and capabilities, is well-suited to engage small-scale farmers and guide them in adopting modern agricultural techniques. The conference saw the participation of stakeholders from both the public and private sectors across the three regions, and its primary focus was to review the progress made in implementing resolutions from the previous year while setting forth ambitious new goals for 2023.

“The ‘Tanzania can feed Africa’ initiative is not just a slogan; it is a central objective of President Samia’s administration, and it is now a high-priority government agenda,” Commissioner Mtaka asserted. He expressed his optimism that SAGCOT fully comprehends the gravity of this agenda as they work collectively to increase the production of staple and cash crops, as well as to channel surplus food crops for export.

RC Mtaka also highlighted President Samia’s unwavering commitment to boosting agricultural production as a means of securing food self-sufficiency. He pointed to the distribution of subsidized fertilizers to farmers as a tangible demonstration of the president’s dedication to this cause. Furthermore, he provided insight into the broader vision laid out by the president, which includes plans for drilling 68,000 boreholes nationwide and strategically constructing dams in suitable locations. This grand vision, he noted, underscores the importance of the role that SAGCOT plays in making it a reality.

Adding depth to the narrative, Maria Ijumba, Head of Clusters and Relations at SAGCOT, presented compelling data. She reported that an evaluation of the efforts made in 2022 revealed a remarkable eight-fold increase in the number of smallholder farmers, surging from 100,000 to an impressive 847,385. Ms. Ijumba also underscored the profound impact of agricultural and livestock activities in the region, highlighting their role in alleviating poverty, creating employment opportunities, and attracting new investments.

The path to realizing the ‘Tanzania can feed Africa’ vision is laden with opportunities and challenges. However, with dedicated leadership, the active involvement of stakeholders, and organizations like SAGCOT at the forefront, Tanzania is well-positioned to make substantial strides towards becoming a significant contributor to addressing food security challenges across the African continent. As the nation continues to make headway in agricultural productivity, it holds the potential to serve as an inspiration for other African countries on their journey toward food self-sufficiency and economic development.

This transformative journey towards becoming a major food supplier for Africa is rooted in Tanzania’s rich agricultural heritage. The Njombe, Iringa, and Ruvuma Regions, in particular, have a long history of agricultural excellence, with fertile lands and a conducive climate. These regions have been crucial contributors to the nation’s food production for generations.

However, realizing the ‘Tanzania can feed Africa’ vision requires a strategic and collaborative effort. The commitment of President Samia Hassan’s government to this vision is unmistakable. Her administration has not only prioritized agriculture but has also taken concrete steps to support farmers. The distribution of subsidized fertilizers is just one example of the government’s commitment to ensuring that farmers have the tools they need to increase their yields.

In addition to fertilizer distribution, President Samia’s vision encompasses ambitious plans to address water scarcity and irrigation infrastructure. The drilling of 68,000 boreholes and the construction of strategically placed dams are critical components of this plan. These initiatives will not only support crop cultivation but also empower communities with a reliable source of water, transforming the agricultural landscape of Tanzania.

The Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) plays a pivotal role in translating these aspirations into actions. SAGCOT’s expertise in agricultural development, coupled with its ability to engage and empower small-scale farmers, has been instrumental in the significant increase in the number of smallholders participating in modern agriculture practices. As Maria Ijumba, Head of Clusters and Relations at SAGCOT, highlighted, the eight-fold increase in smallholder farmers from 2022 demonstrates the organization’s effectiveness in driving positive change.

Furthermore, the impact of agriculture on poverty alleviation, job creation, and attracting new investments cannot be overstated. Agriculture not only sustains livelihoods but also serves as a catalyst for economic growth. As more smallholders transition to modern, sustainable farming practices, the ripple effects are felt across communities, leading to improved living standards and increased opportunities for economic advancement.

As Tanzania charts its course towards becoming a prominent food supplier to Africa, it also sets an inspiring example for other nations on the continent. The commitment to food security is a shared goal among African countries, and Tanzania’s progress can serve as a model for others to follow. Collaborative efforts among nations, with organizations like SAGCOT as catalysts, can pave the way for a brighter, more food-secure future for Africa as a whole.

In the ‘Tanzania can feed Africa’ is not just a dream; it is a concrete and achievable goal. With dedicated leadership, the collective efforts of stakeholders, and the invaluable support of organizations like SAGCOT, Tanzania stands on the cusp of transforming its agricultural landscape and making significant contributions to addressing food security challenges across the African continent. The journey is long, but the potential for positive change is immense, offering hope for a more prosperous and food-secure Africa.

+++Neema Munisi is a leading expert in agribusiness and gender-focused food systems. She is also a trainer on business-related topics. For consultancy, write to her. Email: neema.munisi80@gmail.com


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