TANZANIA – Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous province of Tanzania, anticipates increasing rice production from 5,400 to 17,332 tons, a threefold increase, following established irrigation schemes in the country.
The pronouncement was made to the House of Representatives by Shamata Shaame Khamis, the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation, Natural Resources, and Livestock, who stressed that the government aims at food independence through good uses of available valleys.
Recently, the Zanzibar government allocated US$214,000 to boost irrigation infrastructure and modern technology in rice cultivation as a push for the country to achieve self-sufficiency.
In Tanzania, rice is the second most important food and commercial crop after maize, with significant national importance as a source of employment, income, and food security for millions of rural households
In addition, the country is the second largest producer of rice in Eastern and Southern Africa after Madagascar, with an average production estimated at 2.2 million metric tonnes annually.
During the announcement, Minister Shamata was responding to Mwanakwerekwe Representative, Ameir Abdalla Ameir, who wanted to know the government’s strategic plan to use rice valleys for the country’s self-reliance in the food supply.
Elaborating, Minister Shamata said the revolutionary government prioritizes irrigation farming to achieve food security in the country, saying through the 2003 major irrigation plan, six valleys covering 1,053 hectares have been developed.
He added that the valleys include Cheju A and Kinyasini with 314 and 184 hectares, respectively while Cheju A valley is 100% developed with 2,500 farmers already allocated plots for irrigation farming.
But the minister decried high cost and limited financial resources as the main challenge that impede the speedy development of the irrigation valleys.
Meanwhile, he informed the house that the government has succeeded to transform peasants into commercial farmers especially in the horticulture subsector, saying through the vegetable and fruit project 19,888 farmers were served.
He also noted that the beneficiaries were equipped with training on best farming practices, reduction of post-harvest loss, and marketing.
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