Tanzania:Taking Stock of Reforms in Agricultural Sector

ALL eyes will be in Dodoma as stakeholders in agriculture will in a three-day conference from tomorrow take stock of reforms in the agricultural sector and plan development agenda of the sector.

Every year, the Annual Agricultural Policy Conference (AAPC) convenes a range of critical policy decision-makers and stakeholders in the agricultural sector to share the latest empirical findings, assess progress in agricultural policy reforms, share successes, lessons learned, identify remaining gaps and chart out agenda for future reforms.

The conference will look at how key reform implementers of Tanzania's agricultural sector are delivering under agricultural sector policy, agricultural trade and marketing, and enabling environment for private sector investment. It will also look at key under agricultural land access dynamics and land tenure policy, access to finance and technology.

This will be a very important meeting as it is about a sector which employs about two-third of Tanzanians and hence a single sector which can play a vital role in growth and poverty alleviation.

It accounts for about 30 per cent of the total economy which is the largest contribution surpassing all other sectors.

This sector has helped to assure us of food security over the couple of years as it provides more than 100 per cent of domestic food in favourable seasons. We find it interesting to note that the agenda of the conference will focus on how to integrate food and nutrition security conference into economic transformation and industrialisation endeavours of the nation with a view to make the sector a driver rather than a follower of the process.

The government has introduced a raft of measures to boost productivity in the sector and provide relief to farmers through lowering or abolition of various nuisance taxes to farmers. That is a very bold measure which underlines the commitment of the government for reforms of the sector.

While we do not expect the reforms to yield results in an overnight, we see changes are clearly happening and their multiplier effects are evident to farmers. That is an achievement as the stakeholders will be taking stock of the reforms in the sector.

However challenges still remain including for instance in post harvest losses and lack of market for harvests, improved access to financing for investment in the sector and the participation of the private sector in the policy reforms. We wish the stakeholders fruitful discussion and deliberation.