THE government move to allocate funds to purchase maize from farmers after every harvest season is a great incentive that would ensure they have ready and reliable market, and hence increase production.
Last week Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa told the parliament that the government has set aside 50bn/- for the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) to buy maize from farmers starting this week.
Also in another important development, the government provided surety to the Cereals and Other Produce Board to secure the 50bn/- loan to purchase maize from farmers.
The two bold measures taken by the government will definitely improve living standards of maize farmers and boost the crop cultivation, now that the demand is escalating given the dire need also in neighbouring countries.
This move will automatically address post-harvest losses and guarantee farmers high prices than the ones offered by retail traders.
According to the Premier, NFRA would buy the crop at 500/- per kilogramme of maize while the CPB would set good prices against 250/- and 300/- offered by retail traders thus making the market more competitive.
This is now the time for maize farmers to additionally think of how to increase production and take advantage of this new opportunity presented by the State.
A few months ago maize exports to Kenya increased six-fold following an official visit made by President Samia Suluhu Hasan to the East African nation. The CPB has already received orders to supply 100,000 tonnes to Kenya which is a maize deficit country and relies on imports from Tanzania and Uganda to meet its annual demand.
The Cereals Board will also need to meet the order of 200,000 tonnes from South Sudan and 20,000 tonnes for World Food Programme. It is expected that President Samia’s visits to the EAC nations will make the regional demand for maize significantly grow in the coming years to benefit farmers and the country’s economy.
Maize is the staple food for the majority of Tanzanians and produced by small-scale farmers, usually grown under low input, rainfed conditions for subsistence and as a cash crop.
Hence, the government move is the right incentives and positive in business environment that will additionally continue creating more job opportunities to develop the maize sub-sector, and in turn contribute a lot in the national economy.
Therefore, it is high time that stakeholders in the maize value chain support the government efforts by creating a favourable environment for the maize subsector to grow.