TANZANIA can now shine in the production of cassava, with records showing that there is an increase from 5.9 million tonnes to 8.2 million tonnes between 2008 and 2019, the Director of Crops in the Ministry of Agriculture, Nyasebwa Chimagu has said.
However, despite the increase, production of the vital economic cash crop remains relatively low in the country compared to the high demand from within and outside the country, especially in China which needs more than 2 million tonnes of dry cassava, equivalent to 6million tonnes of fresh cassava per year.
In an interview with the Daily News, Mr Chimagu said the low production was attributed to low use of improved seed, low application of improved technologies, unreliable climatic conditions as well as presence of diseases, among others.
According to him, during the 2016/17 season, at least 1,202,216 hectares of cassava were cultivated, producing a total of 4, 025,265 tonnes.
“The low production was caused by prolonged droughts in major cassava growing zones,’’ he stated.
He added that during the 2017/18 season, the country grew cassava in a total of 983,502 hectares which generated 8,372,211 tonnes, whilst during the 2018/ 2019 farming season, the country produced 8,184, 093 tonnes from 990,835 hectares. He could however not reveal the current statistics on the crucial agricultural product.
“We are putting several measures in place to improve the country’s production level with an eye to meet expanded demand for cassava in home and away markets,” he observed.
Cassava Desk Officer, Upendo Mndeme noted that the ministry of agriculture has developed a diverse strategy aiming to double the current production through increasing availability of quality cassava seed varieties, training farmers and extension officers on better agronomic practices.
“A number of efforts have been put in place to increase production, productivity and processing of cassava in the country, through which more than 389 hectares of cassava seed farms have been registered for seed multiplication and at least 71 authorised seed inspectors have been trained on cassava seed inspection,” Director of Crops in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Nyasebwa Chimagu she noted.
As per the 2017 National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)’s Agriculture Annual Sample Survey, cassava is operated by 1.9 million operators along the value chain and the crop contributes 17 per cent of the food basket in Tanzania, second after maize during 2018/19.
Tanzania ranks 12th in the world cassava production, 7th in Africa, based on the country’s available cassava production data of 8.4 million tonnes in 2018. The leading countries in cassava producing in the continent include Nigeria, DRC, Ghana, Angola, Mozambique and Malawi.