Different stakeholders are currently implementing an initiative that seeks to increase maize productivity.
The Maize Initiative comprises interventions aimed at making certain systemic changes. These should ultimately enable smallholders to more readily access farming inputs and markets, as well as the provision of know-how on relevant technologies, post-harvest loss management and similarly helpful good agricultural practices.
As it is, the initiative has already started paying off – in testimony whereof farmers can now pay just 50 per cent of their input costs in advance, with the rest being paid after harvesting.
We are of the view that this initiative should be extended to cover more agricultural production for food, cash and export requirements, as well as inputs for domestic industries.
Although maize is widely-grown in Tanzania as a staple, there nonetheless are other crops which could benefit just as well from the initiative.
Indeed, such initiatives need support from all developmental stakeholders, including especially the government and other sectoral regulators, public/private partnerships, creditors, marketers and development partners, both domestic and foreign, bilateral and multilateral.
Joint efforts in all this will definitely fuel agriculture sector growth, which is pivotal to all-inclusive socioeconomic development.
Agriculture contributes around 30 per cent of GDP, and engages over 67 per cent of the working population.
It also accounts for about 65 per cent of the industrial raw material needs across the country.
Agriculture’s huge potential can best be tapped to significantly boost productivity all-round, and revolutionise the sector if and when such best-practice initiatives like the Maize Initiative are effectively spread out and prudently applied.
This would be in the best interests of farmers, traders and consumers in particular, and the country at large as we pursue our National Development Vision 2025 of a semi-industrialised, middle-income economy.