Tanzania is in the process of establishing the country’s first grain and legumes regulatory authority to protect local farmers against dubious dealers and crop racketeers.
That was revealed by the Minister of Agriculture; Hussein Bashe, when addressing journalists at the threshold of the ongoing 53rd Plenary Session of the Southern Africa Development Community Parliamentary Forum converges in Arusha.
“Our farmers have been falling prey to some dubious dealers promising them lucrative deals that are out of reality and in the end local growers end up losing their harvests to racketeers, the regulatory body will among other things, protect the peasants,” Bashe stated.
The SADC Forum runs under the theme of ‘The Role of Parliaments in Modernizing Agriculture to address Food Insecurity and Youth Unemployment in the SADC Region.
Essentially the Regional Parliamentary forum among other agendas is mostly addressing food insecurity challenges facing the continent.
President Samia Suluhu Hassan who officially opened the Regional Legislators’ Forum in Arusha, insisted that SADC countries should invest heavily in agriculture in order to cushion African countries from effects of climate change, global conflicts and unemployment.
Earlier on during the preceding symposium, it was observed that only about 10 percent of Africa’s rural land is registered.
That raises concern over the crucial issue entailing the protection of arable land for agriculture on the continent.
The Tanzania Minister of Agriculture, Hussein Bashe said the continent has 65 percent of the world’s remaining uncultivated, arable land with potential to produce enough food to feed itself.
But with 90 percent of the arable land remaining unaccounted for, it may not be easy for Africa to transform the fertile tracks of land into proper farms for full production.
Minister Bashe pointed out that if the continent’s potential is harnessed; Africa has the capacity to feed 9.7 people by 2050.
This means the continent will be able to take care of the entire world’s food needs in future despite the globe’s projected population increase.
“However, protection of land for agriculture remains a major challenge across the continent,” said the Minister.
“While Africa holds more than 65 percent of the world’s arable land which is not yet cultivated, the continent’s share in global agricultural production remains low,” he stated.
And that is despite the fact that two-thirds of the African population is employed in the agriculture sector.
Delegates discussed ways of involving the youth in agriculture by making the sector more appealing technologically.
“Over 90 percent of all agricultural output in Africa comes from the small-scale farms managed by over 60 percent of the continent’s residents,” the Minister clarified.
It is estimated that there are 1.1 billion hectares of land for cultivation in Africa at the moment according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The continent ranks second after Asia which boasts 1.7 billion hectares, with third of that being mapped in China alone.