President Samia’s Presidential Food and Agriculture Delivery Council – The Four Members Team

On March 17, 2023, Hon. Samia Suluhu Hassan, the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, took the stage at the State House in Dar es Salaam to launch the African Food System Forum (AGRF).

Amidst the discussions on food systems, she unveiled a significant initiative: the establishment of the Presidential Food and Agriculture Delivery Council. This council would comprise stalwarts and seasoned experts from the spheres of agriculture and food systems, handpicked for their vast experience and insights.

Earlier in the year, from January 25th to 27th, President Samia had attended the ‘Dakar 2 Summit on Feeding Africa: Food Sovereignty and Resilience’ held in Senegal. The summit was a crucial gathering of African leaders, all united in their resolve to reshape the continent’s food landscape.

At AGRF summit launch, she reflected, “We, as African leaders, made a collective commitment. We recognized the urgency to devise strategies that would lead our nations towards food self-sufficiency while boosting food production. A central resolution emerging from our deliberations was the inception of dedicated councils. These bodies are envisioned to be the torchbearers in our quest to advance agriculture and amplify food production.”

Introducing the newly-formed council to her countrymen, President Samia underscored its pivotal role. She emphasized that the primary responsibility of this council would be to turn the aspirations and goals set during the Dakar 2 Summit into tangible outcomes on the ground. At the heart of this mission lies a simple yet profound vision: to guarantee that every Tanzanian can avail themselves of sufficient, wholesome, and nutritious food.

What the president said about the Four Council Members

1)Honorable Mizengo Kayanza Peter Pinda, retired Prime Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania.

Of him, President Samia said: “He always says he is a farmer’s child. Recognizing this, we have decided to give him this pivotal role. As a former Prime Minister, he will also serve as the chair of the council. Honorable Mizengo Kayanza Peter Pinda, we now entrust you with the Tanzanian agriculture council.”

2) Honorable Hailemariam Desalegn, Retired Prime Minister, Ethiopia.

Of him, President Samia said: “Other members will include Honorable Hailemariam Desalegn. We chose him not only because of his active involvement in the fields but more so for his encouraging words, ‘Tanzania, Move move!’ In our shared journey, he will be the force urging us forward.”

3) Mr Geoffrey Kirenga, CEO of SACGOT.

Of Kirenga, President Samia mentioned: “Mr. Geoffrey Kirenga, owing to his commendable performance in the The Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (“SAGCOT) region, has been chosen. We anticipate that he will employ the same expertise to usher in new agricultural zones in Tanzania.

4) Andrew Masawe, former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture.

President Samia, regarding Maswawe, remarked: “Mr. Andrew Masawe has served diligently as a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture. His rich experience, garnered over the years, let him use it.”

In general, she said, “I have found the right advisors to advise me in this sector.”

Who are the four men?

“We need to confront the reality that poverty among our citizens persists. This issue can often be overlooked, especially in urban environments. But if you visit the rural areas where most of our people reside, the stark reality of poverty is unmistakable,” said Mzee Pinda on 12 July 2023  at the unveiling of AGRA’s strategic five-year plan, in Dodoma.  One of his greatest desires is to see the majority of Tanzanians who live in the rural areas, win giants over poverty via education and improved agricture and food systems.

Hon Pinda, who was Tanzania’s Prime Minister from 2008 to 2015, is an ardent champion of the agricultural sector, viewing it as crucial for Tanzania’s economic trajectory and the prosperity of its people. Born and raised in the agriculturally abundant region of Rukwa, Pinda’s intrinsic bond with farming has profoundly influenced his political and policymaking journey. He consistently prioritizes rural upliftment, agricultural innovation, and the empowerment of farmers. In his current role as the Chancellor of the Open University of Tanzania, Pinda seamlessly intertwines education with progressive agricultural practices, preparing future generations to embrace both the challenges and advancements in the realm of agriculture.

Hailemariam Desalegn, a distinguished Ethiopian statesman who helmed the nation as its Prime Minister from 2012 to 2018, currently chairs AGRA (Sustainably Growing Africa’s Food Systems). A vocal advocate for agricultural advancement, he consistently underscores Tanzania’s vast agricultural potential. In his words, “Tanzania has the capability to not only sustain itself but also to be the breadbasket of Africa, provided it fully taps into its agrarian promise

In contrast, Mr. Geoffrey Kirenga has a more institutional touch to his legacy. As the CEO of the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT), he has overseen multiple huge projects aimed at transforming Tanzania’s agricultural sector. Under his leadership, SAGCOT has prioritized the creation of partnerships, especially between smallholder farmers and private agribusinesses, and the acceleration of agricultural value chains. These strategies have fostered an environment where farmers can access markets more easily and get fair prices for their produce. It is this kind of insight and innovation that Kirenga is expected to bring to the council. Given his track record, there’s little doubt that his contributions will be significant. Kirenga’s leadership and management capabilities have made him a prominent figure in Tanzania’s agricultural sector. His vision for modernized and sustainable agriculture through public-private partnerships aligns perfectly with the goals of the Presidential Council.

Andrew Masawe, meanwhile, brings to the table a blend of grassroots understanding and bureaucratic insight. Having been a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, he is well-acquainted with the challenges and opportunities within Tanzania’s agricultural framework. His tenure at the Ministry saw a strategic shift towards more sustainable and efficient agricultural practices, focusing not just on yields but on the entire ecosystem supporting Tanzanian farmers. His experience in shaping agricultural policies and his understanding of the intricacies of governance will be invaluable to the Presidential Food and Agriculture Delivery Council.

Together, these four members bring a blend of deep-rooted understanding of Tanzanian agriculture, administrative acumen, pan-African perspectives, and a passion for uplifting the nation’s farmers. It’s evident that President Samia has handpicked these members to ensure that the council is not just another administrative body but a dynamic entity that will catalyze real change.

Agriculture remains the backbone of the Tanzanian economy, with over 65% of its population directly dependent on it. The establishment of the Presidential Food and Agriculture Delivery Council, spearheaded by these four eminent personalities, reflects Tanzania’s commitment to transforming its agriculture sector.

Does President Samia’s visionary step in establishing this council and appointing such stalwarts with domestic and international expertise, coupled with an unwavering commitment to uplift the Tanzanian farmer, ensure that the council is poised to usher in a golden era of Tanzanian agriculture?  Only time will tell.

President Samia detailed the pivotal role and duties of the newly-established Presidential Food and Agriculture Delivery Council.

She began, “In essence, the Council is tasked with several core responsibilities. Firstly, it’s about introspection and assessment. We need to continuously evaluate the strategies we’ve chalked out to enhance the agricultural sector. And not just stop at evaluation but also provide insights on effective implementation.”

She continued, “Innovation is the key. The Council will guide us on harnessing local creativity to ensure consistent food availability. Concurrently, strengthening the financial backbone of this sector is crucial. It’s heartening to see representatives from the banking sector here. A commendable move has been made in slashing the interest rates to 9%. However, the journey doesn’t end here. There’s a pressing need to bolster the farmer loan guarantee funds and reinforce farmer savings and credit cooperatives. This is integral to ensure both investors and farmers have unbridled access to finance.”

She emphasized the symbiotic relationship between the private sector and government. “Yesterday, during my visit to South Africa,” she shared, “a startling revelation was the significant rice import from Vietnam by South Africa. We, Tanzanians, possess 22 million hectares suitable for rice cultivation via irrigation. The potential here is immense. It’s not just about self-sufficiency. It’s about becoming a pivotal player in the global food market. We discussed the challenges, especially related to land planning, but the vision is unwavering.”

Furthermore, she highlighted the potential for international collaborations. “The Council is also to facilitate and assist in procuring loans or aid from global partners for bolstering agriculture. I’m optimistic, especially with seasoned professionals like Dr. Mwatima, who has extensive experience with IFAD. Her expertise will be instrumental in leveraging funds.”

The President also underscored the significance of the youth in this journey. “It’s not just about the present. It’s about the future. Sustainable ways to engage the youth, both young men and women, in agricultural investments need to be devised. They are the torchbearers of tomorrow.”

In her closing remarks, President Samia was both hopeful and assertive, “I extend my best wishes. Remember, the hopes and dreams of Tanzania rest on your shoulders. If we ascend to new heights, the accolades will be yours. Conversely, any shortcomings will also reflect upon you. But I have an unwavering faith in the champions of Tanzania. I am confident that you will not let us down.”

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