AFRICAN Development Bank (AfDB) has promised to support Tanzania with technical assistance to build capacity to achieve comprehensive national food balance sheet.
Speaking at the just ended three-day training here, AfDB Official Vincent Ngenakumana said the primary objective of the training was to equip stakeholders involved in preparation of the food balance sheet with international standard guidelines and necessary skills to prepare and manage statistical information that makes the balance sheet.
“We presented the methodologies and tried to identify sources of data for Tanzania food balance sheet…we establish need assessment for further backing in this area,” said Abidjan-based official.With the built capacity and the country’s potential, Mr Ngenakumana, the bank’s Principal Agricultural Statistician, said AfDB is optimistic that Tanzania will soon become a model in the continent on the best management of food balance sheet and secure food security for citizens.
Food balance sheet is a key tool to look at availability of food at national level, which is an aggregate of amount of food that is physically present in the country or area for a specific period through all forms of domestic production, stocks, commercial imports and food aid.
The official told the ‘Daily News’ that the bank presence was a response to Tanzania’s 2014 request, through the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), for technical assistance in preparation of food balance sheet to help the country to achieve food security.
In the request, NBS identified three key needy areas, which if supported, Tanzania could afford the needed information, which can reduce food shortages and cited preparation of food balance sheet as one of them.
“Since AfDB has the mandate and resources to support, we responded to the request and here we are,” he explained. Other requests were on production of agricultural statistics and preparation of Strategic Plan to Strengthen Agricultural Statistics. The bank official said training on food balance sheet was part of the global strategy to improve production of agricultural statistics at national level.
The programme is in line with the bank’s Feed Africa Programme, which aims at transforming agriculture in member states from traditional subsistence farming to commercial, to feed the continent and improve social wellbeing of the people.
NBS Agricultural Statistics Manager Titus Mwisomba said under food balance sheet, data from all food sources are coordinated and brought together to form the national food balance.
And, that is why the training involved many stakeholders, including officials from the Ministry of agriculture, Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, Bank of Tanzania, National Food Reserve Agency and NBS.
Mr Mwisomba said achievement of comprehensive food balance sheet is key because it provides basis for food policy analysis and decision making to ensure food security, saying the information is critical for planning purposes and monitoring of food situation in the country.
“With food balance sheet, you primarily measure consumption against supply, enabling the government to import when there is deficiency and export when there is food surplus,” he said.