AGRICULTURE, Natural Resources, Livestock and Fisheries Ministry was on Thursday ordered to draw up a comprehensive strategy to promote commercial organic farming in Zanzibar.
President Ali Mohamed Shein, launching the third Nanenane agricultural shows at Chamanangwe grounds here, said it was high time Zanzibar embraced commercial farming but without necessarily excessively using chemical fertilizers.
"We have to commercialise our agricultural sector but we have to discourage uses of chemical fertilizers...our soil, especially here in Pemba, remains highly fertile and suitable for organic farming," he said, adding that organic products have huge markets that offer premium prices, which "we have to grab."
He directed the ministry and its institutions to conduct tangible researches, which will help Zanzibaris to move from traditional to modern and highly productive farming.
"Go out on the field and conduct credible and useful researches...get rid of that rhetoric I see you doing on televisions," President Shein fumed, charging that all agricultural experts should move from their air-conditioned offices to the fields where they will meet and work with peasants.
He discouraged the traditional advises by agricultural extension officers to farmers on the use of pesticides instead of researching on the most effective ways to eliminate crop pests and diseases.
"Through high quality researches, let us focus on disease and pest preventions instead of treatment, which is costly and sometimes complicated," directed the president.
He warned farmers against the use of fires in clearing their fields, describing the practice as highly dangerous to the environment.
"The more you burn the land, the more useful organisms you destroy," he counseled.
President Shein said the government has in the past 10 years invested heavily in agriculture, noting that Zanzibar is currently 60 per cent food self reliant as compared to about 50 per cent in 2010.
"...and, we are determined to soon become self reliant in rice," he said, noting that Zanzibar is today supplying to the mainland some of the horticultural products it used to source from the other side of the union.
He said the government focus is now on the envisaged huge seaweed processing plant whose construction is scheduled to start by the end of this month at Chamanangwe area in Wete, Pemba.
Upon completion of the plant construction, Dr Shein projected, the price of seaweed will rise to over 4,000/- per kilogramme from the current price of between 700/- and 1,800/-.
Speaking at the event, Agriculture Minister Mmanga Mjengo Mjawiri said the revolutionary government is determined to use the annual agricultural shows to promote commercial farming in the country.
"These exhibitions are no longer an entertainment gathering—they have evolved into an institution, a training ground," said the minister, hinting that 121 institutions from public and private sectors have displayed their products and services for public view and learning.