MEMBERS of Parliament hailed President Samia Suluhu Hassan for increasing the budget for the Ministry of Agriculture and called on the government to push hard for irrigated agriculture.
In the current financial year, the Ministry of Agriculture has been allocated 294 billion/- but in the next budget, the government will spend 751 billion/- on the sector, an increase of 155%.
Most lawmakers contributing to the new budget speech said that given the effects of climate change on the agricultural sector, continuing to rely on rain-fed agriculture will get the country nowhere. Other MPs have called on the government to start subsidizing coffee growing inputs to increase exports.
John Sallu (CCMHandeni Rural) said that Tanzania is endowed with countless arable basins or valleys suitable for irrigated agriculture.
He said investing in irrigated agriculture would help transform the sector. Condester Sichwale (CCM-Momba) called on the government to emphasize irrigated agriculture, saying Momba constituency in Songwe region is rich in arable valleys suitable for rice cultivation.
According to the MP, the people of Momba have been supplying rice to the people of Tunduma, including citizens from parts of DR Congo and Zambia. She said if irrigation systems were introduced to the area, crop productivity would increase.
Hamis Tabasamu (CCM-Sengerema) asked the government to consider drilling wells to facilitate irrigated agriculture in areas without rivers or dams.
Rashid Shangazi (CCMMlalo) was of the opinion that after the increase in the ministry’s budget by President Samia, actions are needed to transform the sector. “Last year, the value of coffee exports was over US$140 million.
This calls on the government to start subsidizing culture,” he suggested in his contribution. Daniel Sillo (CCM-Babati Rural) said: “The allocated budget shows a good start towards the transformation of the sector.
But, if we want to bring about reforms in this sector, we must end the dependence on rain-fed agriculture. “The budget presented suggests a brighter future for the agricultural sector.
However, special mechanisms should be put in place to track the performance of extension workers in the country,” said Mariam Mzuzuri (CCM-Special Seats).
The lawmaker told fellow MPs that despite farming for years, she had never seen an extension worker visit her farm to offer help. Mzuzuri’s comment on monitoring extension worker performance was supported by Riziki Rulida (CCMSpecial Seats).
But, according to Tumaini Magesa (CCMBusanda), if Tanzania wants to transform agriculture, it should be ready to allocate 10% of its total budget to the sector. Edward Ole Lekaita (CCM-Kiteto) was of the opinion that irrigated agriculture should go hand in hand with the adoption of rain harvesting technologies.
He suggested the government reduce the taxes collected when importing irrigation equipment. But, Rita Kabati (CCMSpecial Seats) spoke about agricultural research, saying their findings had not reached farmers across the country to have an impact, calling for the situation to be rectified.
Stressing the need for massive investment in irrigated farming, the MP representing the Iringa region, said banks in Zimbabwe do not lend money to farmers who do not practice irrigated farming.
Timotheo Mzava (CCM-Korogwe Rural) said irrigated agriculture increases productivity per unit area, calling on the government to seek funds outside the budget to fund large-scale irrigation projects.
Jackline Msongosi (CCM-Special Seats): “We believe we will see reforms in agriculture. The Ministry of Finance and Planning must ensure that the money allocated for agricultural subsidies is distributed to help farmers.”
Oran Njeza (CCMMbeya Rural) said: “We thank President Samia for presenting this budget. It will transform the agricultural sector. However, the ministry must throw its weight behind its implementation.
Ministry officials must change their minds since they never received this amount of money. Luhaga Mpina (CCMKisesa) criticized the government’s idea of establishing the Cooperative Bank, saying the plan would only waste public money as it would eventually collapse.
Speaking on the spike in fertilizer prices, the former minister of livestock and fisheries said the government was responsible for the problem after dismantling the bulk supply system for key agricultural inputs.