He sounded the call yesterday when closing this year’s eight-day Nane Nane Agricultural Exhibition at Nzuguni grounds on the outskirts of Dodoma municipality.
The theme for this year’s event was ‘Kilimo Kwanza – Employ modern science and technology in agricultural production to meet the increasing people’s demand’.
The Vice President said the theme was no doubt in recognition of the important role agriculture plays in economic development.
“Indeed, the theme is consistent with our national aspiration of transforming traditional agriculture into modern farming, which have proved to increase production per acre,” he said.
The VP said that food security remains one of the government’s top priorities, reminding that a nation that is unable to feed itself is in crisis and its dignity is in great jeopardy.
He said that the country is currently experiencing high food prices due to inflationary pressures caused by high oil prices and depreciating value of local currency.
“In order to improve food security, the government has also put in place bold short term and long term interventions,’’ he said, adding: “The government has in the recent past undertaken significant interventions to boost farmers’ incomes”. He added.
He also explained that the government would continue to support farmers in order to utilise huge potentials that exists in the country to produce food that meet the country’s demand; and possible produce surplus for export to neighboring countries with food shortages.
“Let me use this opportunity to urge farmers to apply science and technology effectively in order to increase their returns,” the Vice President stated.
He pledged that in the 2012/13, the government would employ more than 1,000 agricultural extension officers, “as the government is interested to see that in every village there is at least one extension officer”.
Dr Bilal also advocated mechanised agriculture such as use of mini-tractors and tractors in farming in an effort to achieve best results from modern farming.
Citing some of the challenges facing livestock sector in the country, the VP said, “Consumption of livestock products in the country is very low, compared to requirements, the situation that makes hard for the products to be sold locally”.
Adding that in Tanzania a person consume 18 kilograms of beef per year, while the recommended amount internationally is 50 kilograms. On milk, the required consumption level is 200 litres per person per annum but, on average a person consumes only 44 litres.
Eggs consumption also is too low, as on average it is recommended that a person should eat at least 300 eggs per annum, but currently a person consumes only 75 eggs, said Dr Bilal.
He also urged farmers to embrace cooperatives for efficient service delivery to members.
“These cooperatives…must be managed by skilled managers, who have earned your trust in order to safeguard the proceeds of your hard work,’’ he stressed.
Dr Bilal also lauded the role played by Tanzania Agricultural Society Organisation (Taso) in promoting growth of agriculture and trade in the country.
Earlier, Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives Christopher Chiza said that the sector remains the backbone of Tanzanian economy as it contributes a lot to the country’s economy and employs more than 80 per cent of country’s close to 45 million population.
He said that this year over 75bn/- has been allocated for subsidizing agriculture – both food and cash crops including maize, rice, sorghum, sunflower, tea, and cotton.
“We have directed the Minjingu Fertiliser Processing Company to produce enough fertilisers to meet the demand”.
Taso’s national chairman Engelbert Moyo asked the government to fulfil its promises of upgrading roads at the Nane Nane’s Nzuguni grounds. He said more than 400 exhibitors participated in this year’s show.