- Published on Thursday, 22 August 2013 02:25
- Written by FAUSTINE KAPAMA
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THE Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Mr Christopher Chiza, has defended the government’s decision to allocate seven per cent of the national budget to the agriculture sector, saying that was a reasonable achievement for Tanzania.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Government), Ms Hawa Ghasia, at a review of the Food and Agricultural Policies in Tanzania (2005 – 2010) report presentation in Dar es Salaam, Mr Chiza acknowledged that Tanzania was still lagging behind in the implementation of the Maputo Declaration on the sector.
“However, compared to 2003 when the allocation was at 3.1 per cent, the allocation of seven per cent is a reasonable achievement for Tanzania,” the minister said at the function to launch a report on findings regarding presentations on price analysis and public expenditure for 2005 and 2011.
According to the Maputo Declaration reached by heads of state and government of the African Union (AU) at its second ordinary session held between July 10 and 12, this year, it was agreed that countries should allocate at least 10 per cent of their national budgetary resources to agriculture.
Presentation of the report follows implementation of the Monitoring African Food and Agricultural Policies (MAFAP) project which conducted an in-depth analysis of price incentives and disincentives faced by farmers and consumers on nine agricultural commodities.
Minister Chiza expressed the importance of MAFAP in Tanzania, saying as a means to ensure that Tanzanians do not suffer from hunger and farmers get fair prices for their produces, his ministry was managing the warehouse receipt system (WRS) and that of the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA).
“With NFRA which caters for maize and paddy, food crops are stored after harvest and released when there is food shortage or when food crop prices inflate. This agency is the ministry’s approach to protecting consumers through food security and price stabilisation,” he said.
He said WRS deals with food crops such as maize, paddy, sesame, sunflower and pigeon peas and cash crops like cashew nuts, coffee and cotton. Under the WRS arrangement, crops are bought from famers after harvest when prices deflate with agreement that additional payments would be made when prices go up.
The minister explained further that crops are then stored in warehouses until the prices go up. “Therefore, the warehouse receipt system ensures that farmers are not penalised by low prices due to production beyond the market absorption capacity at the time of harvesting,” he pointed out.
The minister hailed the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for sponsoring the project and the contribution of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) for providing methodological guidance.
Speaking at the same occasion, the Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF), said the MAFAP project was also being implemented in nine other African countries, including Malawi, Mozambique, Kenya, Uganda, Bukina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali and Nigeria.
“The Monitoring African Food and Agricultural Policies Supports decision-makers at national, regional and pan-African levels by systematically monitoring and analysing food and agricultural policies in African countries,” Dr Lunogelo said.