Sh96bn spent to improve irrigation schemes

The government has spent at least Sh96 billion to uplift the standard and performance of irrigation schemes across the country to improve the agricultural sector.
Statistically, there are a total of 2,678 irrigation schemes in different parts of the country although most of the vital agricultural facilities are underperforming due to diverse challenges.
According to Agriculture Minister Josephat Hasunga, the parent ministry was strategising constructive plans with an eye to transform the agricultural sector as well as general performance of farmers in the country.
The plan, among others targets to ensure for farmers deters from hand hoe cultivation and adopt best mechanised and accepted agronomical practices.
As part of the strategy to ensure the intended mission bore fruits, Hasunga explained that the ministry, to start with, was considering reviewing and improving teaching curriculums among local agricultural colleges to equip students with vibrant, practical and theoretical knowledge.
With close partnership with the ministry of education, the envisaged plan aims at seeing the possibility to include agricultural syllabuses in primary and secondary schools.
“We are eager to see local agricultural colleges start moulding students with sound knowledge pertaining to agronomic practices of all key crops. This will play a vital role in efforts to propel the growing economic pace within the country, “he informed.
Mr Hasunga raised concern over unsatisfying competence and inadequate coverage of extensional officers in the country, a grim revelation, which is thwarting a smooth metamorphosis of agriculture.
He said at least 58 per cent of Tanzanians were being employed in agriculture, noting that was why the ministry found it vital for timely improvement of the sector, a move which will play a key role in helping farmers escape from the shackles of poverty.
“The ministry has also been working round the clock to capacitate the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB) to roll out more capital loans to eligible farmers,” the minister said, adding:
‘’Already a total of 226 agricultural training centres have been initiated by the ministry in different wards cross the country to impart farmers with needed agricultural knowledge.
However, he said, plans were also afoot to start sending at least 100 local agricultural graduates to attend a special one-year internship training in Israel to practically learn the cultivation of several key cash and food crops.
Last year, the sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP shrank to 26 percent from 28.7 percent. Currently, the sector earns the country 30 percent of all foreign currencies.