By Anthony Muchoki
In the realm of global agriculture policy, Hussein Mohammed Bashe, Tanzania’s Minister of Agriculture, is often likened to Akinwumi A. Adesina, the former Nigerian Minister of Agriculture (2011 to 2015) and current President of the African Development Bank.
Adesina’s term as Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture was marked by a transformative approach that reoriented the sector towards commercialization, empowered smallholder farmers, developed market infrastructure, and catalyzed innovation. These changes resulted in heightened agricultural productivity, improved food security, and increased the sector’s global competitiveness.
Adesina’s success was largely due to his outstanding oratory abilities and magnetic charisma, which were crucial in igniting an agricultural revolution in Nigeria. His innate understanding of the necessary steps for this transformation played a key role. Similarly, Honorable Bashe exudes a charismatic aura.
Bashe’s Ground-Level Approach and Marketing Expertise
He excels in interacting directly with farmers in their fields, effortlessly communicating in local languages. His versatility extends to confidently addressing heads of state and international audiences. Moreover, his deeply ingrained and intuitive knowledge of agriculture demonstrates his comprehensive expertise in the field. Yes, and he is a professional marketer.
Strategic Policy Initiatives Under Bashe’s Leadership
Bashe has been instrumental in driving agricultural policies aimed at economic development. Under President Hassan’s leadership, he has focused on agricultural transformation as a cornerstone of Tanzania’s economic growth. His vision aligns with the country’s 2030 goals, emphasizing reducing crop wastage, boosting raw material availability, creating new jobs, reducing poverty, and increasing exports.
Bashe’s Rise to Deputy Minister and His Vision for ‘Kilimo’
Bashe’s appointment as Deputy Minister of Agriculture by President John Pombe Magufuli in July 2019 was a strategic decision. The President explained that Bashe’s involvement in shaping the 2019/20 agriculture budget and his analytical contributions to debates in Parliament were impressive. The President encouraged him to apply his thoughts about ‘kilimo’ (agriculture) and utilize this analytical acumen in a practical setting.
Parliamentary Influence: Bashe’s Advocacy for Equitable Taxation
In his parliamentary contributions, despite being a CCM MP from the ruling party, he was recognized as a vocal backbencher. He firmly believed that, with proper strategies in place, agriculture could serve as a means to generate wealth for the majority of Tanzanians, most of whom are farmers. Unafraid of controversy, he once boldly stated that taxation should apply to everyone, including the President, MPs, and all Tanzanians, without making exceptions for MPs.
Hon. Bashe’s Insightful Contribution to the Budget Debate
In his charismatic contribution to the budget debate for the Ministry of Agriculture for the financial year 2019/20, Hon Bashe emphasized the integral connection between the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock & Fisheries Development and the Ministry of Industry and Trade. The discussion, took place in Parliament on June 18, 2019.
The Critical Role of Agriculture in Tanzania’s Economy
Hon. Bashe pointed out the critical role of agriculture, livestock, and fisheries in Tanzania’s economy, noting that these sectors contribute about 30% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Despite their significant contribution, he expressed concern over the inadequate development budget allocated to these sectors. He argued that the budgetary allocation did not reflect the sectors’ importance to the economy and the livelihoods of many Tanzanians.
Highlighting Budgetary Discrepancies
Highlighting the budgetary discrepancies, Mr. Bashe pointed out that while Tanzania was spending a total of Sh12 trillion on various development projects, the combined budget for the Ministries of Agriculture and Livestock & Fisheries Development was only a meager Sh61 billion. This comparison underscored his argument that the financial allocation for these vital sectors was disproportionately low.
The Need for Increased Investment in Key Sectors
The debate brought to light the critical need for increased investment in agriculture, livestock, and fisheries. These sectors are not only essential for economic growth but also play a pivotal role in ensuring food security and providing employment to a significant portion of the population. Mr. Bashe’s comments were seen as a call to action for the government to reevaluate its budgetary priorities and increase support for these key sectors, which are fundamental to the nation’s development and prosperity.
Honorable Bashe’s Commitment to Agriculture
As Honorable Bashe took the oath of office, he declared in front of President Magufuli that he was well-versed in agriculture and fully understood its challenges. He emphasized the critical role of agriculture in Tanzania’s economy, stating,
“Sekta ya kilimo sio ya kujikimu tu, kilimo ni biashara, kilimo ni maisha, ndiyo sekta ya kujenga uchumi wa viwanda.” (“The agricultural sector is not just for subsistence; agriculture is a business, it is life itself, and it is the sector that will build an industrial economy.”).
Tackling the Cashew Nut Market Challenge
As Bashe assumed the role of Deputy Minister, he was immediately tested by the fire of the complexities of the cashew nut market. The government had initially implemented a strategy of buying directly from farmers, a move designed to protect them from dealers, followed by selling these purchases to large-scale buyers like processors and exporters. However, Bashe introduced a significant change to this approach.
He established a system that allowed dealers to purchase directly from farmers and cooperatives. Moreover, he declared that the government would withdraw from buying, aiming to ensure that the market remained both competitive and transparent. Despite Dr. Magufuli’s initial doubts regarding the effectiveness of an open and transparent market, Bashe’s strategy proved to be a success. It effectively managed to clear the substantial backlog of produce from the previous season, perfectly timing it for the imminent harvest season.
Continuing Legacy under President Samia Suluhu Hassan
After President John Magufuli passed away, Bashe tenure continued under President Samia Suluhu Hassan, leading to his eventual promotion to the Minister of Agriculture in January 2022. In Bashe’s words, ‘Reform is a very difficult journey,’ a sentiment that resonates with the necessary steps to realize President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s vision for Tanzania. This vision is not only to feed Africa but also the world.
Addressing Challenges in Tanzanian Agriculture
While Tanzanian agriculture has shown progress over the last two decades, it has encountered multiple challenges, with two major ones being the lack of an adequate budget and the dwindling interest of young people in agriculture. Within less than two years, Bashe, bolstered by President Samia’s support, has successfully begun to address these issues.
The Agricultural Sector Development Programme (ASDP)
As the second-largest economy in East Africa, Tanzania has been implementing the Agricultural Sector Development Programme (ASDP) in phases: Phase 1 from 2006/2007 to 2013/2014, and Phase 2 which is divided into two parts – the first from 2017/2018 to 2022/2023 (which has recently concluded), and the second from 2023/2024 to 2027/2028.
The Minister observed that despite several flagship agricultural projects, there was a lack of enthusiasm among farmers, youth, and women regarding the sector. Recognizing the need for change, he aimed to ignite national interest, confidence, and proactive engagement in agriculture, serving as a key catalyst for this transformation. As the marketer per excellent, that he is, with his team, they come up with the charismatic programme Building A Better Tomorrow:
Building A Better Tomorrow: Youth Initiative For Agribusiness
With his team, the ministry came up with Building a Better Tomorrow (BBT) initiatives, and the component of Building A Better Tomorrow: Youth Initiative For Agribusiness (BBT-YIA), became a national hit. If it was a song, it would have been a blockbuster. BBT-YIA rapidly gained traction among young people, drawing them towards agriculture (kilimo) with its promise and potential. BBT-YIA, a significant government-led program launched in 2022, aims to empower young Tanzanians in engaging in profitable and sustainable agribusiness. This ambitious initiative is set to run until 2030, with a substantial budget of 356.199 billion Tanzanian shillings (approximately $148 million), positioning it as a promising model for other nations considering similar ventures.
Goals and Approach of BBT-YIA
The key goals of BBT-YIA are multifaceted. Firstly, it seeks to increase youth participation in agribusiness by providing essential training, resources, and market access, thus making agriculture an attractive and viable career choice. Secondly, the initiative aims to boost food security and spur economic growth by fostering a new generation of skilled, entrepreneurial farmers, thereby enhancing agricultural productivity and contributing to Tanzania’s broader economic development. Lastly, BBT-YIA places a strong emphasis on promoting sustainable farming practices, ensuring that these new agribusiness ventures are environmentally friendly and resource-efficient.
BBT-YIA’s approach is comprehensive, focusing on several critical areas. Training and capacity building forms the core of the program, equipping young people with the necessary skills for successful agribusiness ventures. This includes technical training, business management skills, and financial literacy. Additionally, the initiative facilitates access to finance, connecting young farmers with loans and grants to invest in their businesses. Market access is another key component, aiding farmers in finding buyers for their produce, both locally and internationally. Furthermore, BBT-YIA invests in essential rural infrastructure like roads, storage facilities, and irrigation systems, enhancing access to markets and resources.
Achievements of BBT-YIA
The achievements of BBT-YIA are already noteworthy. Over 10,000 young people have received training in agribusiness skills, and more than 5,000 young farmers have gained access to finance. Moreover, the program has supported the establishment of over 1,000 youth-led agribusinesses, demonstrating its effectiveness in fostering a new generation of agri-entrepreneurs.
Honorable Bashe’s Role in Hosting the Africa Food System Forum
The journey of Honorable n Bashe, from his days as Deputy Minister to his current role as the Minister of Agriculture, has been marked by his unwavering dedication to elevating Tanzania’s agricultural sector on the global stage. His persistent lobbying efforts for hosting a major international agricultural forum in Tanzania came to fruition in 2023, with the country successfully hosting the prestigious Africa Food System Forum, formerly known as the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF).
As Deputy Minister, Hon. Bashe recognized the immense potential of bringing the Africa Food System Forum to Tanzania. His efforts were not just about hosting an event but about creating a platform where African nations could collaborate, share knowledge, and forge partnerships to enhance food systems across the continent. His dream was realized in 2023, under his leadership as the Minister of Agriculture, positioning Tanzania as a central hub for agricultural discourse and innovation in Africa.
The Africa Food System Forum, held in Tanzania in 2023 and hosted by President Samia Suluhu Hassan, is a significant leap in the nation’s agricultural journey. It reflects a broader trend of diverse international meetings, such as the World Economic Forum and the Doha Forum, focusing on global issues like food security, sustainable agriculture, and economic development. By hosting this event, Tanzania has not only showcased its agricultural potential but also its capability to lead and influence continental and global agricultural policies and practices.
Hon. Bashe’s Leadership Marking a Pivotal Moment in Agriculture
This achievement under Hon. Bashe’s leadership marks a pivotal moment for Tanzania’s agriculture sector. It highlights the country’s role in shaping the future of food systems in Africa and demonstrates the power of visionary leadership in transforming the agricultural landscape.
Visionary Reforms in Tanzania’s Agricultural Sector
Bashe is a man with a clear vision and a sense of urgency to drive development in Tanzania’s agricultural sector. In his quest to revolutionize the industry, he is implementing sweeping reforms across every value chain. His goal is ambitious yet focused: to double production, open new markets, and solidify Tanzania’s position as a leader in food security. Whether it’s cashew nuts, tea, coffee, tobacco, or staple food crops, Hon. Bashe is committed to accelerating productivity and marketability, with a keen eye on enriching the lives of smallholder farmers.
Comprehensive Agricultural Reforms Under Bashe’s Guidance
These reforms, while often challenging, are pivotal for the growth of the agricultural sector. Under Hon. Bashe’s leadership, significant strides have been made in key areas such as cashew, tea, coffee, and maize, among others. His approach is holistic, addressing not just the production aspects but also the vital elements of market access and sustainability. By focusing on enhancing the efficiency and profitability of these crops, he is fostering a more robust and resilient agricultural economy.
Empowering Smallholder Farmers
By increasing smallholder farmers’ access to resources, technology, and markets, he is empowering them to become more than just subsistence farmers; they are now key players in the national and potentially global agricultural market.
Addressing Key Agricultural Challenges
In his determined pursuit to transform Tanzania’s agricultural landscape, Hon. Bashe is addressing some of the most pressing challenges in the sector with a holistic and strategic approach. Key among these challenges are irrigation, soil health, and the creation of self-sufficiency in seed and fertilizer production. His visionary leadership is geared towards not just temporary fixes but sustainable, long-term solutions.
Future Prospects of Tanzania’s Agriculture Under Bashe
The big question that remains is whether these efforts will elevate Tanzania to the zenith of global food security? While the future is yet to unfold, Hon. Bashe’s determination and proactive strategies are strong indicators of a positive trajectory. He is not just planning for the present; he is laying the groundwork for a sustainable and prosperous agricultural future.
Dr. Akinwumi Adesina’s Transformative Leadership
Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, known for his transformative leadership in the agricultural sector, remarkably halted a 40-year pattern of corruption in Nigeria’s fertilizer industry. His innovative approach involved the development and implementation of an electronic wallet system, among other significant reforms. This system revolutionized the way farmers accessed and utilized fertilizers, breaking the cycle of corruption that had long plagued the sector. Before this, Adesina made notable contributions as the vice president for policy and partnerships at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), where he played a key role in advocating and implementing policies aimed at enhancing Africa’s agricultural potential.
Hon. Bashe’s Journey in Agricultural Advocacy
On the other hand, Honorable Bashe’s journey to the forefront of Tanzania’s agricultural sector is equally inspiring. With a background in media, having served as the CEO of New Habari and as the marketing and circulation manager of Mwananchi Communications, Bashe’s transition into politics was marked by a consistent engagement with agricultural issues. His work in his constituency, particularly his efforts to encourage women and youth to engage in agriculture as a means of economic liberation, has been noteworthy. Bashe’s advocacy for agriculture as a viable and empowering economic activity has resonated deeply within the community.
Elevating Local Commitment to National Impact
Perhaps the most significant aspect of Bashe’s career is his ability to elevate this local-level commitment to the national stage. As a minister, he continues to champion the cause of agriculture, echoing the ethos of economic empowerment through agricultural engagement. His approach mirrors that of Adesina’s in its innovation and transformative impact. Bashe’s efforts in Tanzania are not just about increasing agricultural productivity; they are about changing perceptions, empowering the marginalized, and creating sustainable economic opportunities.
Redefining the Agricultural Landscape in Africa
Together, Adesina and Bashe represent a new breed of African leaders who have managed to redefine the agricultural landscape. Their focus on innovation, empowerment, and sustainability is paving the way for a more prosperous and self-sufficient Africa. Their leadership proves the power of visionary policymaking and its ability to bring about tangible, positive changes in the lives of people and the broader economic framework of a nation.
Hon. Hussein Mohammed Bashe: A Journey from Nzega East to National Leadership
Early Life and Values
Hon Bashe, born on August 26, 1975, in Nzega East, Tanzania, has risen to prominence as the Minister of Agriculture in Tanzania. As the eldest of six children, Bashe’s upbringing in a small village by his parents, Sheikh Mohammed and Zaynab, instilled in him deep-rooted values of community, responsibility, and responsiveness.
Academic Foundations and Political Beginnings
Bashe’s academic journey culminated in a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, specializing in Marketing. This foundational knowledge later became the cornerstone of his political and reformative endeavors. His political journey commenced in 2005, marking the onset of an illustrious career in Tanzania’s political landscape.
Political Career with Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM)
Throughout his career, Bashe has been a steadfast member of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party. His unwavering commitment and dedication to the party and its ideals have seen him serve in various capacities, including as a Member-General at the Central Council, Secretary of Economic Affairs and Finance in Nzega Magharibi, and as a member of both the District Executive Committee in Nzega District and the National Congress in Nzega District. His influence also extended to the Tabora Region as a member of the Regional Executive Committee.
Parliamentary Journey and Electoral Success
Bashe’s parliamentary journey began in 2015 when he was elected as a Member of Parliament for the Nzega Urban constituency. His electoral success in the primary elections was a testament to his growing influence and popularity. He secured a resounding victory with 18,774 votes, defeating his closest rival from the Chadema party. His re-election in 2020, where he won with 84.58% of the popular vote, further solidified his political standing.
Personal Life and Interests
Beyond his political and professional endeavors, Bashe is a passionate soccer fan, a reflection of his early years rooted in his Muslim faith and the communal ethos of his village. His vision for Tanzania, in harmony with President Hassan’s dream, is to transform the nation into a major food producer and exporter. He focuses on trade-driven food security and profitability for smallholder farmers.
A Visionary Leader in Agricultural Transformation
Hussein Mohammed Bashe’s journey from a humble beginning in Nzega East to the halls of power in Tanzania’s government is a story of resilience, dedication, and a profound commitment to his nation’s development. As the Minister of Agriculture, he stands at the forefront of Tanzania’s journey towards agricultural transformation and economic prosperity, striving to make a significant impact on the nation’s food security and global agricultural standing.