Africa-Press – Tanzania. THE GOVERNMENT must put in place workable strategies to facilitate massive investments in sunflower and oil palm cultivation to end shortages of edible oil, a cross section of legislators have demanded.
Contributing to debate on the national budget for fiscal 2022/23 yesterday, in the House, MPs cited oil palm and sunflower as among crops for which more investment is needed. Many farmers were still locked away from realising the potential that cultivating palm and sunflower brings, they stated.
Some MPs asserted that the agricultural sector faces a number of challenges which the government wasn’t working hard enough to solve, thus transforming the sector.
Asa Makanika (Kigoma North) said many areas including Kigoma can produce oil palm but farmers lack essential skills, knowledge, seeds and tools to do so, despite that there is plenty of arable land within the region.
“Developing oil palm farming and processing palm oil will improve livelihoods and welfare of poor households,” he stated, urging determination and commitment to transform the situation. This will also address the current edible oil shortage, strengthening its local supply, he remarked.
The current shortage of edible oil was not caused by ongoing disasters and conflicts but the lack of deliberate strategies by the government in collaboration with the private sector, he emphasised.
Michael Mwakamo (Kibaha Rural) also hinted on the note that the country had plenty of favourable land to take up some strategic crops but needs considerable determination to harvest its potential.
“We have lakes, rivers and expansive basins, but their potential is lowly utilized. The majority of farmers are still practicing subsistence farming using old methods like hoes and traditional seeds that reinforce the low productivity,” he stated.
Were the country to ‘wake up’ and decide to invest in research, quality seeds and technology, millions of people will enjoy a better life through agriculture, he asserted.
Cecilia Paresso (Special Seats) urged the government to work closely with the private sector to encourage farmers to venture into cultivating the crops, to save large amounts of foreign currency used to import edible oil.
She said agriculture is employment and if well invested, the sector can address most development challenges the country faces.
“We have been approving budgets here every year but nothing much is done to transform the sector. We need to invest intensively in this sector and get more educated youths to engage in farming,” she emphasised.
She also complained that the government loses large sums of money from tax loopholes, arguing that the government needs to foster a friendly business environment, along with promote voluntary tax compliance.
Prof Sospeter Muhongo (Musoma Rural) called for durable strategies to invest in solar and wind energy.
“If we want to improve power supply and reduce poverty, we need to invest heavily in the energy sector such as wind and solar, agriculture and livestock sectors,” the former energy minister intoned.