Dar es Salaam. Retired President Jakaya Kikwete said limited access to modern technology, as well as little adoption and absorption of technology, are among the major challenges hampering the transformation of rural agriculture.
He said these – coupled with the unavailability of important facilities such as markets – negatively affect food security and income generation for farming households in Tanzania.
Mr. Kikwete said all this during his meeting with Mrs. Aggie Konde, vice-president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra) whose retired president is a member of the board of directors.
“About 85% of Tanzanians live in rural areas and depend on agriculture as a source of livelihood. But their agriculture is characterized by low productivity, while food security is not guaranteed. They also don’t earn enough – which affects their ability to meet basic needs,” he said in a taped interview.
As a member of the Agra Board of Directors, Mr. Kikwete has made field trips to several regions including Iringa, Mbeya, Katavi and Tabora to review the Agra project over the past five years.
He pointed out that the adoption of technology will also help maintain the productive capacity of rural farming households, as more young people are absorbed into the growing manufacturing and service sectors.
“When agriculture is transformed, it would create opportunities for agribusiness to grow, and as it grows, the service industry used to serve agribusiness would also grow – and, therefore, more people would be taken out of the agriculture industry in other sectors,” he said.
“As people are moved out of farming, you need to keep productivity in rural areas – and that’s why we need to encourage technology adoption,” he added.
Dr Kikwete said part of the reason he accepted the appointment as an Agra board member was his personal passion for the agricultural sector.
He said that during his first days as President of Tanzania he was not happy with the state of the agriculture sector and there were a number of initiatives including being part of the team which led to the design of the first agricultural sector development programme.
“I had a huge passion for transforming agriculture, we also came up with the ‘Kilimo Kwanza’ initiative which literally translates to agriculture first, and through dialogues with the private sector, we also discussed of the sector’s role in the economy and what should be done,” he said.
Among other notable milestones in the transformation of the agricultural sector, he mentioned the formation of the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (Sagcot) comprising eight regions now Morogoro, Iringa, Njombe, Mbeya, Songwe, Rukwa, Katavi and Kigoma.
Mr. Kikwete said the close cooperation between Agra and Sagcot will solve many of the problems that have hampered profitable farming in Tanzania.
According to the National Sample Census of Agriculture conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) for the agricultural year 2019/20, 7,837,405 households, or 65.3% of the total of 12,007,839 households, were involved in agricultural activities.