The agricultural sector in Tanzania is taking great strides to streamline its operations to ensure all technical staff is fully equipped from the grassroots; an effort with tremendous impact on smallholder farmers.
Agricultural extension officers and agricultural advisors provide hands-on information to farmers at the grassroots. But in order to provide accurate and up to date information; they too need to stay up to date with the evolving policy environment. They further need to work closely with other agricultural officers at the local and central government level to ensure synergies and avoid duplication and redundancies of roles.
On 19 August, 2018, the SAGCOT Centre Ltd (SCL) Policy department convened a two day meeting, to raise awareness on policy concerns and establish synergy between extensions officers and other central government agricultural officers in the Ihemi cluster, based in the Njombe and Iringa regions, and Mbarali Cluster, based in the Mbeya and Songwe regions. This was extremely essential following the central government administrative structural change shifting extension officers to report directly to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture instead of their respective local government authorities.
The meeting was officially opened by the Hon Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Dr Mary Mwanjelwa, who thanked SCL for convening the technical meeting. She emphasized the need for extension officers to make a deliberate effort to seek and serve farmers to increase knowledge and improve their yields and access to markets for their produce.
The two-day workshop took the attendees through the Agriculture Sector Development Programme Phase II (ASDP II), the government agricultural development blueprint, taxation, highlighting agricultural tax incentives. There was further discussion on the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), the African policy framework for agricultural transformation, wealth creation, food security and nutrition, economic growth and prosperity and its linkage to the ASDP II and Tanzania Vision 2025; the country’s economic blueprint to become a middle-income economy. The CAADP is implemented through the Tanzania Agriculture and Food Security Investment Plan (TAFSIP).
There were various presentations made by government agencies. The Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) explained various wins for investment highlighting the strides made since 2015 such as the provision of tax incentives to the agricultural sector such as skill development levy (SDL). This exemption offered to agribusinesses improves the quality of the workforce in the sector and in return increases productivity bolstering the sector.
The Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) discussed their roles as licensed seed inspectors, Tanzania Fertilizer Regulatory Authority (TFRA) on fertilizer quality assurance, Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) and its role in the regulation and safety assurance of consumable products. Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI) shared insights on its role in research and areas of synergy between research and extension services to ensure crop and animal health remains optimal and early warning mechanisms between the central government, local government and extension officers; based on field observations of any abnormal strains in animals or crops.
The meeting successfully concluded on the 20 August 2018; SCL was commissioned to carry out comprehensive research in the SAGCOT area to determine the challenges hampering extension officers from effectively executing their roles. SCL was further requested to provide recommendations on how to resolve these challenges to optimize and revamp extension services in the Agricultural sector and work with local government authorities to ensure sufficient numbers of trained extension officers are availed to work with TPRI.
SAGCOT Centre was further encouraged to hold a high-level meeting with the President’s Office – Regional Administration and Local Government and the Ministry of Agriculture to track, record and disseminate timely data on high-quality fertilizer to assist in accurate and timely strategy employed by the TFRA.