Food, cash crops that topped exports in 2022
Dar es Salaam. The export volume of cotton, pyrethrum, tobacco, avocado, cashews, sesame, lentils and maize doubled last year, bringing in $764.54 million( Sh1.758 trillion).
A total of 1.088 million tonnes of these crops were exported in 2022 compared to 537,472 tonnes exported in 2021, attracting $437.322 million(Sh1.006 trillion).
Other crops, including rice, peas, coffee, and tea, saw a fall in exports, totaling 515,424 tonnes. These crops attracted $404.002 million (Sh929.205 billion).
The ministry of agriculture disclosed data from the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) in a recent meeting with editors in Dodoma, that show that a total of 1.604 million tonnes of agricultural crops were exported last year.
With the value of cashew exports excluded, all agricultural produce attracted $1.169 billion(Sh2.687 trillion).
In 2021, a total of 1.219 million tonnes of all agricultural produce was exported generating $967.765 million (Sh2.226 trillion).
About 1.071 million tonnes were exported in 2020, bringing in $795.607 million, or Sh1.83 trillion.
The eight crops were shipped in that year in an amount of around 587,179 tonnes, earning $448.450, or Sh1.031 trillion.
Agriculture Minister Hussein Bashe told the editors that the coutry was focused on increasing the volume of food exports for the benefit of individual citizens and the nation at large.
“Due to rising demand around the world, we are going to increase the focus even further. Therefore, farmers will be encouraged to concentrate on increasing the production of food crops,” he said.
Tanzania’s goal, according to Mr Bashe, who also serves as the representative for the Nzega Urban Constituency, is to produce 50 million tonnes of rice by 2025.
He said the the amount will constitute 10 percent of the crop produced in the continent. Additionally, he stated that by 2025, the nation intends to produce five million tonnes of maize, which will meet between 10 and 15 per cent of the continent’s demand.
Mr BAshe said Tanzania currently ranks third on the continent in terms of maize production, after South Africa and Nigeria.
“This goal is consistent with initiatives to reduce sugar and oil imports by 2030. However, this goal will be met in 2025, five years earlier than anticipated,” he said.
“Currently, 60 percent of Tanzania’s cooking oil is imported but the government intends to cut imports by 30 percent by 2030,” added Mr Bashe.
The ministry’s objectives
The minister told the senior media representatives that the government has set a number of goals to be implemented by 2030 through the agriculture docket.
He said the goals aimed at making the nation food-self sufficient and a significant exporter of some key produce. The goals, he said would be achieved through increased investment in the construction and rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure.
The 29 million hectares of potential irrigation land will be utilised if irrigation systems are effectively strengthened.
“Other objectives include increasing agricultural productivity through irrigation from the present 10 percent to 50 percent by 2030. We assure farmers of the availabilitty of to extension services as well as subsidised fertilisers,” he said.
We are obliged to increase the value of exports from $1.2 billion to $5 billion and create eight million jobs for youth and women,” he added.
In addition, he said there should be a 100 percent increase in the supply of industrial raw materials, a 30 per cent increase in access to money and loans from financial institutions, up from 9 per cent in 2022, and a solution for the cooking oil scarcity.
Another goal, according to Mr Bashe, is to raise horticultural crop exports from the current $750 million to $2 billion, becoming fertiliser-sufficient by giving local investors preference, and expand the use of limestone to lower production.
He mentioned other goals as including enhancing seed production in partnership with the business sector to meet domestic and international demand.
What the stakeholders say
Speaking to The Citizen, the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (Sagcot) Chief Executive Officer, Mr Geoffrey Kirenga said Tanzania should prioritise the production of food crops such as maize and rice for export.
He identified increased irrigation farming as one of the five areas of priority adopted by the government and stakeholders to counteract the adverse effects of climate change.
Other possibilities include expanding investment in research and development as well as seed production for both domestic and international markets.
“Farmers must enhance their production techniques if these are to have an influence. This is the reason the government has upped its investment in extension services and capacity building, which will provide farmers more knowledge and skills to use seeds, fertiliser, and other agricultural inputs more effectively and boost efficiency,” the Sagcot CEO added.
He said that nutrients are significant and necessary for plants, stressing that farmers should have access to fertiliser at convenient times and at reasonable cost.
“Offering subsidised fertilisers to farmers has substantially aided in increasing uptake. This indicates that an increase in efficiency is assured when it is coupled with farmer mobilisation to use better seeds, he said.
He said all of this coincides with increased use of science and technology. For instance, he said, testing the soil to help farmers determine the type and quantity of fertilisers to use to grow certain crops.
Technology, the Sagcot chief said is used to identify farmers in order to help them become more effective. He highlighted the need for increased public-private sector cooperation.
Mr Kirenga noted that the private sector has demonstrated a willingness to work with the government and that it has a vast array of talents, knowledge, experience, specialisation, and marketing competence.
Because of this, he stated, “I think the government and stakeholders have made wise transformation decisions for the advantage of the nation, regions, and the continent as a whole.
Mr Audax Rukonge, the Executive Director of the Agriculture Non-State Actors Forum (Ansaf), advised the government to remain focused and and avoid being sidetracked by the crops’ annual marketing performances.
It will be challenging for the nation to evaluate itself if priorities are quickly switched from one crop to another. Seasonal crops should receive more funding because they provide employment for the bulk of young people entering the labour force each year, he said.
“While their contribution in building the country’s economy is much needed, they are attracted to invest in short term crops that will provide them with quick money,” he added.
He further said that the country is supposed to know its comparative advantages and potential markets, noting that the stimulus should be the people who produce for the said markets.
According to him, large, medium and small-scale investors should be promoted, hinting for instance that large-scale investors usually have muscles that enable them to invest in market research even when the government delays.