Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Tanzania agriculture minister urges for coordinated action to address food security
The Tanzania Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Hon. Prof Jumanne Maghembe, has challenged a group of international and local agricultural experts, policymakers, and donors converging in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, this week to come up with practical steps and coordinated actions to improve agricultural productivity in the country to reduce rural hunger, enhance food security, create food surplus and alleviate poverty.
Hon Prof Maghembe informed the workshop participants that the main challenges facing agriculture in Tanzania are low productivity, low production, high post-harvest losses, poor physical infrastructure and unstructured and poor markets. This, he added, was further compounded by a persistent low overall investment in the sector and low availability of credit to the farmers.
“These are the issues we have to deal with in a strategic and sustainable manner to overcome the vicious cycle of poverty for the majority of people in Africa in general and Eastern and Southern Africa in particular,” he said.
The minister was speaking while officially opening a four day meeting from 6 – 9 February in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to identify priority areas for a five-year research initiative to be implemented in the country whose goal is to develop and promote improved integrated farming systems that will sustainably increase production and profitability while preserving the natural resource base.
Dr Julie Howard, Chief Scientist, Bureau for Food Security, US Agency for International Development (USAID, said the research program was part of efforts by US government’s Feed the Future (FtF) initiative to bridge research and development.
Dr Howard said FtF was prompted by the global food crisis of 2007-2008 and its goal was to address the root causes of hunger and poverty globally, .
“The food crisis was a wake-up call to all of us: to feed the future, we need to do our agriculture differently,” she said.
She added the research program would bring together researchers and development partners to drive the uptake and adoption of new technologies by farmers.
The research project will focus on management practices that better integrate cereal, legumes, vegetables, livestock, and trees in mixed-farming systems, and allow for more efficient use of resources, enhanced food production, and higher farm incomes.
The research is one of three regional programs in Africa funded by USAID under the US government's Feed the Future initiative targeting the Sudano-Sahelian Zone of West Africa, Eastern and Southern Africa and the Ethiopian Highlands. The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)is leading the program on Ethiopian highlands while IITA heads the other two.
Other research partners include Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), the World Vegetable Center (AVRDC), US universities, and national research and development institutions in Tanzania.
Information on the project and workshop is online at http://agintensificationafrica.wordpress.com