MKUTANO wa kimataifa wa Jumuiya ya Wataalamu wa Mbegu kutoka Afrika wamekutana kwa wiki moja hapa Zanzibar wakiwa na lengo la kuimarisha mbegu bora ili wakulima waweze kuzalisha chakula cha kutosha na kuondosha njaa ambayo imekuwa ikiathiri maendeleo ya Afrika mara kwa mara.
Mkutano huo umefanyika Hoteli ya Zanzibar Beach Resort ambao ni wa 12 wa jumuiya hiyo umewashrikisha washiriki 300 kutoka mataifa mbali mbali ambao unafanyika kwa mara ya kwanza nchini Tanzania baada ya nchi kadhaa kukabiliwa na ukosefu wa chakula na sasa nchi hizo zinaendesha harakati za kuimarisha kilimo zikiwa na matumaini ya kupunguza umasikini unaoambatana na njaa katika mataifa mbali mbali katika bara la Afrika.
Baadhi ya nchi za Afrika zilizokubwa na janga la njaa wananchi wake walikuwa wakihama vijijini na kuhamia mijini kutokana na kufuata msaada wa chakula kama ilivyotokezea huko nchini Somalia ambapo mami ya wananchi walikumbwa na balaa la njaa.
Rais wa Jumuiya ya AFSTA, Ennock Chikava nae alieleza kuwa lengo la Jumuiya hiyo ni kuongeza biashara ya mbegu zenye ubora na zinazendana na teknolojia ya kisasa katika nchi za afrika kwa kuwanufaisha wakulima na wajumbe wengineo.
Katika mkutano huo unaowashirikisha wafanyabiashara wa mbegu kutoka afrika na baadhi ya nchi za asia na ulaya rais wa jumuiya hiyo, ambapo Chikava alisema hakuna njia ya afrika kuweza kujiondoa katika matatizo ya chakula katika nchi zao isipokuwa ni kwa kuimarisha kilimo.
Alisema wakati umefika kwa nchi za kiafrika kufanya huhudi kuimarisha kilimo kwa kuimarisha mbegu zinazoweza kuhimili ukame na kukua katika mazingira magumu ili kuweza kupunguza ukosefu wa chakula Afrika ambayo inasukumwa na changamoto kwa kuongezeka kwa idadi ya watu.
Kwa upande wake Mwenyekiti wa maandalizi ya mkutano huo, Parick Ngwediagi alisema kumekuwepo na mafanikio makubwa katika kuimarisha mbegu za kilimo katika nchi mbali mbali za kiafrika hali ambayo imesaidia kuongezeka kwa biashara ya mbegu kwa wakulima.
Alisema mwaka 2005 kulikuwa na makampuni 16 tu ambayo yalikuwa yakifanya biashara ya kuuza mbegu ambapo hivi sasa makampuni yameongezeka na kufikia 55 na kurahisisha upatikanaji wa mbegu hizo kwa urahisi.
Nao, Waziri wa Kilimo, Chakula na Ushirika wa Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania Profesa Jumanne Maghembe na Kaimu Waziri wa Kilimo na Maliasili, Mhe. Haroun Ali Suleiman walieleza juhudi zinazochukuliwa na Serikali ya Jamhuri ya Muungano na Serikali ya Mapindyuzi Zanzibar katika kuimarisha sekta ya kilimo na mikakati ya uzalishaji wa mbegu nchini.
Awali akifungua mkutano huo Rais wa Zanzibar Dk Ali Mohammed Shein, alisema tatizo la upungufu wa chakula na umasikini ni vitu ambavyo vinaweza kumalizika katika muda mfupi ujao ikiwa kutakuwepo na juhudi za pamoja za kuimarisha kilimo.
Alisema uzalishaji wa chakula umekuwa ukipingua nchini Tanzania na kutofikia malengo ya serikali kutokana na ukosefu wa wataalamu, matumizi madogo ya teknolijia ya kisasa pamoja na ukosefu wa mbegu bora.
Aidha Dk Shein amezitaka Taasisi za mbegu Barani Afrika kuimarisha mbegu za mazao mengine kama vile muhugo na viazi ambazo ni muhimu kwa nchi za Bara hilo kutokana na uwezo wa kustahamili ukame badala ya kuelekeza nguvu kubwa kwenye mbegu za nafaka.
Dk. Shein aliyasema hayo leo katika ufunguzi wa Mkutano wa Mbegu wa Afrika uliofanyika huko katika Hoteli ya Zanzibar Beach Resort, nje kidogo ya mji wa Zanzibar, ambao umehudhuriwa na Wajumbe kutoka zaidi ya nchi 50.
Katika ufunguzi huo, Dk. Shein alisema kuwa Mkutano huo wa 12 unafanyika wakati Tanzania na nchi jirani katika ukanda huu zina matatizo ya kupanda kwa bei za vyakula, athari za mwanguko wa thamani ya fedha na mabadiliko ya hali ya hewa ambazo sababu zote hizo zinatishia juhudi za upatikanaji wa usalama wa chakula.
Kutokana na hali hiyo, Dk. Shein alieleza kuwa Tanzania nayo inahitaji kujitosheleza kwa upatikanaji wa mbegu ili kukidhi mahitaji ya wakulima pamoja na kuuza nje ya nchi kwa lengo la kuongeza uzalishaji wa chakula na kupunguza umasikini nchini.
Kwa upande wa Zanzibar Dk. Shein alisema kuwa Serikali ya Mapinduzi Zanzibar imekuwa ikichukua juhudi kubwa katika juhudi za kutafuta mbegu bora na kukipongeza Taasisi ya Utafiti wa Kilimo ya Kizimbani kwa juhudi zake zilizopelekea upatikanaji wa mbegu bora za muhogo zenye uzalishaji wenye tija na uwezo wa kustahamili ukame.
Dk. Shein, pia, alizipongeza nchi mbali mbali za Afrika kwa juhudi zake inazozichukua katika kuimarisha kilimo cha umwagiliaji maji kama ni njia ya kupambana na changamoto kadhaa zinazoikabili sekta ya kilimo pamoja na kuzipongeza Taasisi Binafsi kwa ushiriki wao imara wa kuendeleza mbegu bora na kuimarisha kilimo Barani Afrika.
Aidha, Katika hotuba yake hiyo Dk. Shein alisema kuwa ili kufikia lengo lililokusudiwa Tanzania imeshachukua hatua za awali zinazohakikisha utekelezaji wa kanuni zilizoweka na zinazofuata na Jumuiya za Kimataifa.
Alisema kuwa mnamo Februari mwaka 2010, Bunge la Tanzania lilipitisha Azimio ambalo linahusu nchi kujiunga na Umoja wa Kitaifa wa Kuhifadhi aina za mimea na hatua za awali zimeshachukuliwa, pamoja na hatua za kufuata taratibu na kanuni zote zilizowekwa na Jumuiya za kudhibiti na kufanya majaribio ya mbegu.
Alieleza kuwa hatua zote hizo zina lengo la kujenga mazingira bora kwa upatikanaji wa mbegu ili kuimarisha sekta ya kilimo hapa nchini.
“Ni matumaini yetu kuwa washiriki wa mkutano huu na Jumuiya nyenginezo za mbegu zitashirikiana na Serikali yetu katika kueneza mbegu bora nchini na katika juhudi zetu za utafiti ili kuleta maendeleo mazuri katika sekta ya kilimo nchini”,alisema Dk. Shein.
Aidha, Dk. Shein alisema kuwa Tanzania kama ilivyo kwa nchi nyengine za Afrika, kilimo ndio msingi mkuu wa uchumi wake kwani sekta hiyo ni tegemeo la ajira kwa silimia 77.5, na tegemeo la upatikanaji wa chakula kwa asilimia 95.
Kwa nafasi hiyo, alieleza kuwa kilimo kina umuhimu wa pekee kwa uchumi wa Taifa sanjari na juhudi za kupunguza umasikini ambapo kwa kutambua mchango wake huo Serikali ya Jamhuri ya Muungano na Serikali ya Mapinduzi Zanzibar zimejiwekea Sera na mikakati ya kuongeza mchango wa sekta ya kilimo kupitia MKUKUTA kwa Tanzania Bara na MKUZA kwa Zanzibar.
Pamoja na hayo, Dk. Shein alitoa pongezi kwa Jumuiya ya Wafanyabiashara wa Mbegu wa Afrika (AFSTA), kwa uamuzi wao wa kufanya mkutano wao wa 12 hapa Zanzibar.
Alieleza kufurahishwa na malengo ya mkutano huo wa siku nne kwa kujadiliana na kubadilishana uzoefu utakaosaidia kukabiliana na changamoto zinazoibuka katika uzalishaji wa mbegu na sekta ya kilimo kwa ujumla katika bara la Afrika.
Mkutano huo unatarajiwa kufungwa hii leo na Waziri Mkuu wa Tanzania, Mizengo Peter Pinda ambao pamoja na mambo mengine washriki hao wataweka mikakati ya kusaidia Bara la Afrika kuondokana na janga la njaa na umasikini kwa kuimarisha mbegu bora za kustahamili ukame mfano muhogo na mazao mengine.
SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF ZANZIBAR AND
CHAIRMAN OF REVOLUTIONARY COUNCIL,
DR. ALI MOHAMED SHEIN, AT THE OPENING OF
“THE AFSTA CONGRESS 2012” ON 7TH MARCH 2012
AT ZANZIBAR BEACH RESORT
Honourable Prof. Jumanne A. Maghembe, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Cooperatives;
Honourable Enock Chikava, President of Africa Seed Trade Association (AFSTA);
Permanent Secretaries and other Government Officials:
Distinguished Chief Executive Officers;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
First and foremost, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Almighty God for availing us good health to be able to attend this unique and important Congress. I understand that some of you have travelled thousands of miles from different parts of Africa and even beyond the continent to come to Zanzibar and be with us to actively participate in this important gathering. Therefore, let me take this opportunity on my behalf and on behalf of the people of Zanzibar and Tanzania in general to welcome you all to Zanzibar, the spice and historical Islands. In Kiswahili, we say “Karibuni sana”! You are welcome and please feel at home. It is my hope that you will not regret your decision to come to Zanzibar and I hope you have already found your stay in Zanzibar comfortable, enjoyable, memorable and rewarding.
Let me admit that it is a great honor for me to be given this privilege to officiate the opening of the AFSTA Congress which is being held in Tanzania for the first time. I take this very first opportunity to express my sincere appreciation on behalf of the people of Tanzania to AFSTA for choosing Tanzania, and Zanzibar in particular, as a venue for this important gathering. As such, we feel privileged to host this Congress here in Zanzibar.
I am told that the objective of this four-day conference is to present, discuss, share experiences and mutually contribute towards resolving emerging issues and today’s challenges facing the African seed industry and agriculture sector as a whole. Such challenges may include but not limited to, impacts of climate change on agriculture, unavailability and accessibility of sufficient quality seeds to our small and resource poor farmers.
Here in Tanzania the agricultural sector is and for a long time will remain the foundation of the country’s economy as it is the case in many African countries. It supports the livelihood of 77.5% of all the people of the United Republic of Tanzania and provides 95% of all our food requirements. Agricultural development is therefore crucial to both national economic development and poverty reduction. In recognition of the contribution and importance of the sector to nation’s social and economic development, the government of Zanzibar and that of the United Republic of Tanzania have put in place policies and strategies that will allow the sector to grow by at least 6% annually in the near future and 10% in the long run. This rate of growth is expected to contribute to the realization of the targets of the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (in Swahili, MKUKUTA for the Mainland and MKUZA for Zanzibar) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of halving poverty and food insecurity by 2015.
In July, 2010, Tanzania signed the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) Compact which was the first step towards full implementation of its agenda in Tanzania. By signing the Compact, the stakeholders agreed to commit themselves to implement the African agricultural agenda that include increasing agricultural investments. As one way of achieving milestone for the implementation of CAADP in our country, in November 2011, the Tanzania Agriculture and Food Security Investment Plan (TAFSIP) was launched. The TAFSIP, is a comprehensive investment plan aimed at mobilizing resources required for implementing agricultural and food security programmes under the Agricultural Sector Development Programme (ASDP) and Agricultural Strategic Plan (ASP) for Mainland and Zanzibar respectively. This plan will open up more opportunities in order to make agriculture the engine of growth and development in Tanzania for increased rural incomes and eradication of poverty.
TAFSIP has addressed all the four pillars of CAADP and calls for increased public and private sector investments in Agriculture on the grounds that unless the subsistence rural economy is transformed into a market economy and linked to other activities through forward and backward linkages, efforts towards transformation of our rural areas and poverty reduction will remain dismal. This is one area which I feel should be of great interest to seed producers and other stakeholders in the agriculture sector.
TAFSIP will be implemented through existing frameworks and programs addressing the agricultural sector including synergies like SAGCOT and Feed the Future. The recently developed KILIMO KWANZA (Agriculture First) initiative for Tanzania Mainland and the Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI) for Zanzibar, have been put in place to catalyze the existing efforts towards achieving food and nutrition security and promote overall growth of the sector. Both do need the cooperational and support of all stakeholders.
AFSTA Congress 2012 is being held when our country and many of neighbouring countries in our region are grappling with rising food prices, grinding financial crisis and unfavourable weather patterns. These crises are threatening our efforts to attain food security and poverty alleviation goals. It is my sincere hope that with concerted efforts, Tanzania and other African countries will come out of this crisis stronger by implementing policies that offer protection to the most vulnerable, enhance increased supply at farm level and also promote regional trade.
Tanzania and many countries in Sub-Sahara region, experience lower than optimum crop yields. Given the importance of cereals, in particular maize and rice in our national food security, allow me to cite the example of maize production where national averages are about 1.5 tonnes per ha. compared with a global average of 4.5 tonnes per ha. This low productivity can be attributed to a number of factors, amongst them the low use of technologies in particular fertilizers, improved seeds, and pesticides.
Unless we address these factors, our objective to feed our people will remain in jeopardy. Among the factors, improved seeds for crops are essential. It is estimated that the potential demand for improved seed in Tanzania is about 120,000 tonnes per annum while the actual demand is estimated at 60,000 tonnes per annum. However, only about 14,000 tonnes of seeds are being produced locally and the rest of the demand is met through imports or use of farm saved seeds. Given the available land and other production potentials, Tanzania should be able to be self sufficient in producing quality seeds in the country that will be used by our farmers and the excess will be exported to other countries. It goes without saying that multi-sectoral research in agriculture is vital. I am pleased to say that both the Governments of the United Republic of Tanzania and Zanzibar are deeply committed to this goal.
In order for Tanzania to achieve these ambitious targets, the country has taken initial steps that will make Tanzania compliant to international conventions and schemes. In February 2010 the Parliament of the United Republic of Tanzania made a resolution that allowed Tanzania to join the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) and the process to that effect has been initiated. We are also in final processes of amending the plant protection legislations to comply with the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). Actions are also being taken to enable compliance to the OECD seed schemes and seed testing laboratories to meet quality assurance conditions of the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA). All these initiatives are aimed at creating favourable environment for increased investments in the seed industry and agricultural sector as a whole. It is my sincere hope that AFSTA members and members of the Tanzania Seed Trade Association (TASTA) as well as participants to this Congress are prepared to work with us to increase production and use of quality seeds of improved varieties and cooperate with our governments greatly in research.
In your deliberations, I recommend to you to take into consideration some basic facts which due to their familiarities are easily forgotten. For instance, when we talk of climate change and its adverse affect on crop production in our continent, we tend to overlook the importance of crops other than cereals which can offer back up to our needs when other crops fail. A recent report by the Columbia based International Centre for Tropical Agriculture in the United States indicates correctly that the cassava plant could help African farmers cope with climate change. I am aware that our local agro-scientists have been trying hard to come up with better yielding and diseases resistant varieties. On a small scale, our agriculture research institute at Kizimbani in Zanzibar has succeed to research on and produce four successful varieties which can cope with drought and pests. Success has also been made on the Mainland.
I call on all stakeholders in the food industry, including the participants, to give extra consideration to this promising crop which feeds around 500 million people every day in Tropical Africa. Cassava, according to reports, has outperformed six other staple crops in sub-Saharan Africa – potatoes, maize, beans, millet and sorghum.
This and other indigenous root crops, such as yams are also promising in providing employment to our people and stimulating economic growth. While we are putting efforts in better seed growing, processing and marketing of cereals and fruits, let us include these promising potential crops.
Overall, I am aware of the numerous challenges which include unreliable rains and lack of fertilisers that we all face but it is encouraging to note that many governments in Africa are now investing in the installation of irrigation system which will give us a boost to our food production.
I am also glad that some of the challenges we are facing are being addressed by the Private Sector in Africa. I wish to commend the Africa Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) for their efforts, I would, however, call for greater cooperation between the AFSTA members and farmers’ bodies in our countries with our government to address the challenges together. Undoubtedly, most of you are members of both organizations and this is a very positive trend. We need to harmonise and bring on board all farming sectors to provide food to our people and establish food security which is vital in fighting poverty.
I am aware that local seed production, mainly in cereals, in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, tripled from 43,000 to about 122,000 tonnes between 2002 and 2008. At the same time, seed imports into the region almost doubled from 9,000 to about 15,000 tones over the same period. I commend, the President of the Africa Seed Trade Association, Honourable Enock Chikavu, for his personnel contribution and initiative in stimulating seed production and trade in our region. Exports from Kenya and Uganda has increased from less than 1,000 to more than 3,000 tonnes in the same period. As a result, in -Eastern and Central Africa seed trade grew more than three times. There are encouraging signs that the seed market in the Eastern and Central Africa region, which was previously small, fragmented and fraught with bottlenecks, is becoming vibrant. Let us recognize that the African Green Revolution starts with improved seed but the seed also needs other nutrients such as water and fertilisers. Let us together produce and trade in them and most importantly teach our farmers on how to affectively use them to increase yield and better crops.
I urge you to continue the good work. Let me conclude by wishing you a very fruitful and successful Congress and I believe that, with the help of the Congress organizers, you have made plans to spare some time in your busy schedules to visit the historic and exotic sites of Zanzibar and also to enjoy with the white sandy beaches around our islands, taste our delicious cuisines, smell the fragrance of its spices, appreciate the cultural diversity of the people and become our cultural ambassadors overseas. I also hope that you will find time to cross the water and visit other beautiful natural attractions such as Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, and Mount Kilimanjaro.
I am now pleased and honoured to declare the AFSTA Congress 2012 officially opened.
Thank you and wish you a very successful Congress. Once again KARIBUNI ZANZIBAR.