Help local dairy industries, MP tells government

 

By David  Nawepa in Iringa

Members of the Parliamentary Standing Committeee for Agriculture, Livestock and Water today ( Monday, September 18, 2017 )  started a tour of Sagcot’s  Ihemi Cluster, a tract embracing Iringa and Njombe Regions, with a call on the government to help local dairy industries so that they can compete in local and foreign markets.

The call was made here by Mufindi North MP   Mahamoud Mgimwa during a dinner hosted in the committee’s honour by the Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Dr Charles Tizeba.

Tanzania banks on agriculture in its agro-industrialisation  drive, by promoting simultaneously agriculture and industries.  In that vein,  Mr Mgimwa told the  audience that Tanzanian dairy industries cannot be measured up to Kenyan counterparts because Kenyan government helps massively their  industries in order to compete with neighbours, including Tanzania.  The MP wants the Tanzania government to do exactly the same.

He said support to the agriculture sector in the next government budget must be pronounced, in favour of agricultural produce.  “These dairy industries have many problems that need to be solved. If we shall solve these problems beneficiaries will be fellow Tanzanians by getting dairy products with ease but also we shall be building the capacity of local industries,” he argued.

Ihemi Cluster is the first functional cluster, out of the five, of the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (Sagcot). In Ihemi, Sagcot says,  it has strategic dairy value chain partnership, based in Iringa. Already some 1,400 farmers are providing raw milk to ASAS dairy processing plant.

Mr  Mgimwa called on fellow committee members to have a probing eye now that they have an opportunity to visit a functioning cluster.  “I appeal to you fellow members, do not keep quiet; where you do not understand ask, where you need clarification, demand one because we want to help Tanzanians,” he said.

On behalf of the permanent secretary, the Director of Planning and Policy in the agriculture ministry, Ms Nkuvililwa Simkanga, told the parliamentarians the government knows  the challenges weighing down the agriculture sector because for a long time government functionaries have been working with Sagcot in implementing the Agricultural Sector Development Programme (ASDP)  — in phase one and two, mainly using  both the private and  public sectors.

“We used Sagcot as a launching pad and also forum to test ASDP before making it countrywide. We told our donors that we believe this is the arrangement that will help us solve problems besetting agriculture and livestock sectors.  At first, we thought the government can do everything but with time we realized that we need the private sector and the government should only give services,” she said.

She said most of the challenges that troubled peasants were solved through dialogue between the private and public sectors.

Ms Simkanga, told the MPs that  a joint delegation from both sectors visited the ministry of finance  and solved problems relating to taxes and levies.

The Sagcot Chief Executive Officer, Mr Geoffrey Kirenga, welcome the visit of the parliamentarians, saying the MPs will see for themselves what is taking place in the cluster.  He said theMPs will have time to talk to peasants and other stakeholders who buy peasants’  agricultural produce.

The CEO said he believes once the MPs get well informed about what is happening they will be part of the transformation process of the agriculture sector.

Besides Ihemi, other clusters are Kilombero, Ludewa, Mbarali, Sumbawanga and Rufiji.

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