Mbeya. — THE government has affirmed that in a bid to motivate farmers, enhance agricultural productivity and earn foreign exchange, it will not bar farmers from selling their produce to neighbouring countries.
Agriculture Minister Hussein Bashe stated on Sunday that the government was not considering closing the borders and restricting farmers seeking the markets in neighbouring countries.
At this juncture, Mr Bashe asked the farmers to produce more in order to have plenty of food in the country, saying prices will be good in the market, since the government has provided them subsidies for that purpose.
He made assurance in a meeting with farmers, leaders, the public and agents of subsidised fertilisers and pesticides in Mbeya region.
The minister stressed that the government has opened foreign markets to create opportunities in the agriculture, adding: “The government has opened the borders, I want to assure you, by the power of God, we will not close the borders, and agricultural products are a business like any other business.”
Mr Bashe noted that if farmers continue with the high pace in farming, food crops will lead in bringing in the country enough foreign currency.
He gave an example of the maize crop which in 2019, saw the country exporting 84,163 tonnes, in 2020 exported 73,000 tonnes and last year sold 32,000 tonnes. From 2019 until December last year it sold a total of 400,400 tonnes.
He said in order to increase productivity in agriculture; President Samia Suluhu Hassan has revived aerial agriculture by instructing the ministry to return the planes, it was using for research and also ordered for new planes to combat pests such as locusts.
He said high productivity cannot come by miracles, that was why the ministry has recruited 7000 Extension Officers, who have been given smartphones connected to a programme that enables them to send soil health information and farmers’ information.
He said 30 per cent of crops are lost in the field, in the market or on the way, so the government has allocated funds to build warehouses for farmers’ crops in rural areas.
“There will be a warehouse of a capacity between 500 to 1000 tonnes in the production areas so that farmers can store their crops,” said Mr Bashe.
In addition, he said the government was going to open irrigation centres in every district in the country, hence, it is upon the farmers to exploit.
He further noted that the government has instructed the Irrigation Commission to carry out a feasibility study and design of 17 large farms across the country, so that the funds could be allocated during the year 2023/24 for commercial farming.