Permanent Secretary of the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Gerald Kusaya, disclosed this while speaking to a delegation from IITA that paid him a courtesy visit in Dodoma city to introduce the new Director for Eastern Africa, Dr Leena Tripathi.
He identified soil, improving farmers’ knowledge on good agriculture practices, and combatting aflatoxin as some of the priority areas needing IITA support.
He notes that the government’s emphasis was on the commercialization of agriculture to increase farmers’ income, and therefore, IITA was needed to continue supporting efforts to train farmers and extension officers on improved agricultural practices to increase productivity and quality of crops.
“We want Tanzanian billionaires from the agriculture sector, and to achieve this, we must increase investment in the sector so that our farmers can become commercial farmers and make use of existing technologies to increase production, diagnose and control pests and diseases, and communicate with the market on time”, said Kusaya.
He also requested the Institute to cooperate and support the government’s plan to assess the soils in each ward so that farmers can know their soil type and the appropriate fertilizers needed.
“One challenge many farmers face in productivity is lack of knowledge on the characteristics of their soils; the government has plans to distribute soil testing kits to extension officers so that they can advise farmers accordingly. However, given the high number of councils in the country, IITA can assist the government in acquiring more equipment,” the PS said.
The permanent secretary also noted that farmers still needed education on postharvest management to help them reduce crop losses and especially avoid aflatoxin problems. He therefore urged IITA to intensify collaboration in the fight against aflatoxin and postharvest management.
On her part, Tripathi, the Institute’s new Eastern Africa Regional Hub Director, said IITA is ready to continue collaborating with the government in the identified priority areas and others. She made a presentation to the PS and the agriculture ministry team on IITA and One CGIAR, illustrating the Institute’s contribution to the transformation of agriculture in Tanzania.
The Director was accompanied by Emeritus Director Victor Manyong; IITA Head of Resource Mobilisation, Regina Kapinga; country coordinator for Africa Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI), Frederick Baijukya; and Head of Finance and Administration, Eveline Odiambo.
During the visit, the Emeritus Director introduced the new Director to the Director General of the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI), Geoffrey Mkamilo, and led a discussion on strengthening collaboration between the two institutions. While in Dodoma, the team also visited the Agriculture Sector Development Programme II (ASDP II) coordination team in the Prime Minister’s office.