THE ROLE OF VET IN FACILITATING DEVELOPMENT OF AGRICULTURAL SECTOR IN TANZANIA

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1 THE ROLE OF VET IN FACILITATING DEVELOPMENT OF AGRICULTURAL SECTOR IN TANZANIA Abstract Agriculture industry is the foundation of Tanzanian economy. It accounts for about half of the national income, three quarters of merchandise exports and is a source of food in addition to provision of employment opportunities to about 80 percent Tanzanian. Agriculture has linkages with the non-farm sector through forward linkages to agro-processing, consumption and export, provides raw materials to industries and a market for manufactured goods. Tanzania has 44 million hectares of land suitable for agricultural production but only only 10.8 million hectares (24 percent) are cultivated mostly under subsistence agriculture. However, Ministry of Agriculture Food Security and Cooperatives is working hard to ensure that farming activities are transformed from subsistence to commercial basis where farmers will benefit through their produce. There is also a view that agricultural development will take place within broader context of rural development in so doing agricultural extension has to take this into account. Moreover Ministry of Agriculture Food Security and Cooperatives in collaboration with Ministry responsible for Education and Vocational Training are working together to ensure that agriculture is incorporated in their education system and VETA curricula. 1

2 Introduction Performance of the agricultural sector Agriculture is the mainstay of the Tanzanian economy contributing to about 24.1 percent of GDP, 30 percent of export earnings and about 75 percent of the total labour force. The rate of growth in agriculture is higher than the average annual population growth rate of 2.6 percent implying growth income. However, the average agricultural growth rate of 4.4 percent is insuffient to lead to significant wealth creation and alleviation of poverty, given the low level of agricultural development. Moreover the National Agricultural Policy 2013 takes into account the existence of huge potential and opportunities for development of the agricultural sector. Whereas 44 million hectares of land are suitable for agricultural production, only 10.8 million hectares (24 percent) are cultivated mostly under subsistence agriculture. The potential exists for expansion of agricultural area under cultivation for small, medium and large-scale farming in areas with available land for expansion while intensive farming shall be applied in densely populated areas with the aim of commercializing agriculture in Tanzania. Agricultural Development Constraints and Challenges The constraints to agricultural growth are largely related to low productivity of land, labour and production inputs, underdeveloped irrigation potential, limited capital and access to financial services, inadequate agricultural technical support services, poor rural infrastructure, infestations and outbreaks of crop pests and diseases, erosion of natural resource base and environmental degradation. Others include gender relations, weak producer organizations, depressed prices for primary commodities in global markets and insecurity with respect to property rights to land and its use as collateral for credit, inadequate participation of youth in agriculture and limited involvement of private sector in agricultural development. 2

3 However, low productivity in sector calls for enhanced research and extension services as well as more access to and appropriate use of seeds, fertilizers, chemicals and pesticides. The use of farm implements plays a critical role in reducing drudgery in the sector which results in rural-urban youth migration. Opportunities Therefore there are number of opportunities in agricultural sector which do exist and if they will be utilized effectively will act as a basis for poverty alleviation in rural areas. The main opportunities include: Abundant natural resource (land,water) and different agro-ecological zones Comparative advantage in the production of various crops including non-traditional crops Expanding domestic, regional and international market opportunities for various agricultural commodities. Tanzania can take advantage of global food crisis to expand production of major food crops for the export market. Growth of agribusiness and medium to large-scale farms provide opportunities for creating partnerships with small farmers as well as creating a more dynamic rural jobs market. Considerable number of existing agricultural research institutions for development of agricultural experts and technologies. Existence of favourable policies for agricultural development and availability of human resource capacity to implement such policies. Existence of institutional reforms for improving efficiency and effectiveness in the provision of public services. 3

4 Agricultural Extension Services Extension services are crucial in supporting poverty reduction in rural areas and market competitiveness for commercial agriculture in the domestic and global markets. It enables procedures to realise increased production and productivity through accessibility to marketing information development. The transformation of agricultural extension is important in order to impart the right tools, knowledge and skills as well as ensuring farmers adhere to Good Agricultural Practices. However, the provision of agricultural extension services in the country is hindered by lack of strong research-extension-farmers linkage, weak supervision and insufficient manning levels, low participation of private sector in extension services delivery, lack of service delivery performance standards and regulations, insufficient knowledge regarding technological advancements and weak coordination of agricultural extension services. Moreover there is a view that agricultural development will take place within broader context of rural development and agricultural extension has to take this into account. Since extension is an ongoing process of imparting useful information to farmers and then assisting them to acquire necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes to utilize this knowledge fully for their life improvement through earnings from sale of produce hence it accrue with vision of VET. Therefore extension has a communication dimension and education dimension as VET where it allows acquisition of knowledge, skills and attitudes which eventually changes behavior of a farmer and improves his/her life standard. Agricultural Mechanization Farm machinery, implements and equipment are important tools for increasing area under production. Despite of its importance, the utilization of farm machinery and 4

5 implements in the country is very low with about 64 percent of farmers are still using hand hoe whereas 24 percent are using animal power and 12 percent tractors. However, the use of modern farm machinery is hindered by high costs of agricultural machinery and implements and low purchasing power of most farmers; insufficient comprehensive agro-mechanization packages and non compatibility of mechanical technologies to local conditions; inadequate quality control mechanism for agricultural and implements ; and inadequate trained operators, mechanics and insufficient after sale services to agricultural machinery and implements. Therefore Agricultural Mechanization is one of the area where VETA has a lot of potential to support agricultural development in this country by minimizing drudgery among farmers and increasing productivity. More so this will definitely attract youth into agriculture industry. Agro-processing The majority of farmers produce in our country are marketed in raw form with little or no value addition. Therefore agro-processing provides an opportunity for increasing incomes and creating job along the value chain through expansion of forward and backward linkages in the economy. The development of agro-processing industries will provide employment through the undertaking activities such packaging, processing, transportation and marketing of food and agricultural produce. However, agro-processing in this country is constrained by limited supply of rural energy; inadequate raw materials, in appropriate machinery, technology and limited skills. The agro-processing area is one of very important arena where VETA can cheap in to utilize the opportunity of value addition of agricultural produce. In so doing VETA can create employment to youth who can in turn contribute to agricultural 5

6 development by increasing quality and shelf life of produce like horticultural produce and other agricultural produce. Financing Agriculture Agricultural financing is an important element in the modernization and development of the sector as a whole. However, public and private sector agricultural financing in Tanzania is inadequate due to the fact that smallholder producers are unable to borrow from financial institutions due to lack of collateral. Despite the importance of long-term financing for agriculture, farmers in Tanzania are faced with difficulties in obtaining loans to finance long term investments in agriculture, high interest rates, low return from agriculture relative to other sectors and long payback period and inadequate awareness on loans and payment terms this is further aggravated by high costs for management of loans by financing institutions. Therefore VET can utilize this area for providing machines and implements to farmers on loan basis under a formal agreement as a way to finance agriculture Agricultural Information Services Agricultural information is a vital tool in agricultural development, however the collection and dissemination of information to various actors in the sector is inefficient. Thus this calls for a well coordinated system in order to have an efficient mechanism for sharing information related to agriculture on timely basis. 6

7 So far there is limited participation of private sector in the collection, processing and dissemination, conflicting and inconsistent information from various sources. Therefore VET can have access to utilize this opportunity and invest under this area of agricultural Information Services delivery to farmers. Youth Involvement in Agriculture Youth in Tanzania provide an opportunity for increasing economic development through their involvement in agriculture which is main activity in rural areas. According to the Integrated Labour Force Survey (2006) youth in our country constitute about 65 percent of the total labour force. Therefore youth provide tremendous opportunities for developing agricultural based rural economy if they are properly harnessed. However, Tanzanian youth are faced with limited access to productive resources, inadequate entrepreneurial skills, and limitation on equity of resource allocation and capital accessibility, inadequate social services in rural areas leading to increased rural-urban migration, drudgery of agriculture due to limited access to labour saving technologies (mechanized agriculture). Therefore in taping this opportunity Ministry of Agriculture Food Security and Cooperatives has opened a youth camp at Mkongo on 5 October 2013 purposely for training them on commercial irrigation as to inspire youth to engage in agricultural activities. The camp was officially opened by President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete. So far the camp have already trained 50 youth on commercial irrigation and the Ministry will ensure sustainable offering of this package of training to youth. 7

8 Thus there is opportunity which VET can join hand with Ministry of Agriculture Food Security and Cooperatives to facilitate this labour force and develop agricultural production sustainably. Recomendations VETA can plan a better way of financing agriculture interms of providing machines and farm implements to farmers on loan basis. VETA can make use of coming up with machines and farm implements which are cheap interms of its costs and compatible with farmers needs so as to get rid of drudgery and increase utilization in area of value addition. VETA can develop program which can let farmers learn issues pertaining to entrepreneurship skills and processing of agricultural produce for value addition. Graduates from VETA can organize themselves in group and VETA can find means of facilitating these graduates by supplying them with machines for example processing machine on loan basis. Conclusion Since agricultural sector seems to employ majority of Tanzanians to about 80 percent therefore facilitating development of agricultural sector is mutual important aspect to this industry as it will enhance farmers improve their livelihood and eventually reduce poverty among them. Therefore VETA has a role to play in facilitating agricultural development in regard to opportunities which can be tapped by VETA in agricultural sector. 8

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