ROOM FOR GROWTH

Tanzania 2018 | AGRICULTURE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Fred Kafeero, Tanzania Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), on the organization's long-term support for Tanzania's development, recent initiatives in agriculture, and financing.

Fred Kafeero
BIOGRAPHY
Fred Kafeero holds a bachelor’s degree in geography, botany, and zoology and a master’s in environmental and natural resources from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. He joined the FAO in 2005 as coach of the National Forest Programme Facility based in Uganda and backstopping Kenya and Zambia. In May 2008, he moved to FAO headquarters and the Forestry Department in Rome, working as a consultant on National Forest Programmes and later as a forestry officer in the Forestry Policy and Resources Division. In July 2016, he was appointed FAO representative in Tanzania.

What have been the priorities for FAO over the past year in Tanzania?

FAO is a long-term development partner for Tanzania, having established offices in Tanzania in 1977, exactly 40 years ago. Since then, we have been providing assistance to the government in the planning and implementation of its agricultural policies, strategies, and programs. Our work mainly focuses on improving food and nutrition security, and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. Through a Country Programming Framework (CPF), FAO and the government define priority areas in which to focus support over a period of two to four years. The current CPF focuses on strengthening evidence-based food and agriculture policy planning and coordination; providing technical assistance for increased investment in the sector; increasing agricultural production and productivity (crop, livestock, aquaculture, and forestry); improving access to markets of smallholder producers, particularly young people and women for improved incomes; and strengthening resilience to threats and crises, including those posed by extreme weather events. Under those priorities, FAO has provided Tanzania with specific and consistent support in preparing various investment projects in the field of agriculture, forestry, and natural resources management, including regional projects and other proposed bilateral investment programs by the World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. We have been at the forefront in supporting the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries to develop climate smart agriculture guidelines and related interventions aimed at building farmers' resiliency to climate change. FAO support and advocacy has resulted in launching a national policy on youth employment in agriculture, which in turn has impacted the beneficiaries' livelihoods due to the high adoption rates of good agricultural practices. Finally, we have supported the Agriculture Statistics Strategic Plan, coordinated by the National Bureau of Statistics to improve availability of agricultural statistical data. We have carried out several technical studies to inform policy or development of sector strategies, including piloting activities on crop forecasting and small-area estimation.

What advances have been made on the 2020 irrigation targets, and what will be the impact of these once realized?

Dependence on rain-fed agriculture is a major bottleneck for agricultural development in many developing countries. Tanzania is increasingly modernizing its agriculture, and irrigation systems are a key factor in that path. Tanzania has 2.3 million ha classified as high potential for irrigation development out of 29.4 million ha suitable for irrigation. The government plans to increase the area under irrigation from the current 461,326ha to 1 million ha by 2020. There will be a huge level of investment in finance and human capacities to realize this target. Increasing irrigated land goes hand in hand with increasing irrigation efficiency and promoting the sustainable use of water. There needs to be more of an emphasis on innovation in the implementation and management of irrigation schemes, including multiple and integrated agricultural activities that will enhance food security and nutrition of local communities in the areas.

Is there enough onus from the public sector on boosting mechanization and development in agriculture, and is there enough financing to support such a drive?

The government policy thrust for medium-term development is expressed in the National Five-Year Development Plan and in the Agriculture Sector Development Program Phase II. Both of these emphasize the development of the agriculture sector through mechanization. There are good examples where policy is defining a move in this direction. For instance, the introduction of tax exemptions on agricultural machinery and implements, as well as the drive for industrialization and attracting of investment for value addition to agriculture produce, all boost mechanization and develop the agricultural sector. However, inadequate financing of the agricultural sector could be a stumbling block in achieving these goals. There is no doubt that the government needs to work in partnership with development partners, private sector, and civil society in pursuit of the agenda to modernize and mechanize the agriculture sector.