Smallholder farmers in the country, recently tasked the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Water to advise the government to ensure proper use of domestic resources to sustain agriculture budget allocation.
The call was made by Smallholder Women Farmers Forum (SWFF) Spokesperson, Ms Flora Flowezi during parliamentary committee engagement meeting organised by ActionAid in collaboration with Agric -coalition members with the aim of providing space for the rural women farmers to interact with parliamentarians to voice out their concerns, needs and the importance of the financing agriculture for sustainable livelihood.
In her presentation,Flora said that more than 50% of councils’ revenues come from agriculture, but very little is invested back to the sector.
She added that there are several international agreements and plans that the government has entered since independence aimed to ensure that agriculture sector yields fruitful results but there has not been political will to achieve them, even in terms of budget. She referred to the Malabo declaration that requires 10% of the national budget to be allocated to the agriculture sector.
Among other things, she mentioned unrealistic budget allocations, for instance, in the financial year 2017/18, the Government allocated TZS 623.6 billion for the sector, but up to March 2018, they had secured TZS 135.2 billion which is equivalent to 22%, yet the ministry is looking forward to collecting TZS 631 billion for the financial year 2018/19 from the same sources, something which is nearly impossible.
"The Government has failed to achieve last year’s budget...what makes them think they will be able to achieve this time, given the fact that it’s from the same sources?" asked Flora.
Pili Kuliwa, a small holder farmer, presented also recommendations that were gathered by small holder women farmers forum in collaboration with Agri coalition members (ActionAid, Policy Forum, OXFAM, ANSAF, TGNP and Forum for Climate Change). Some of them include; increasing the number of extension officers as per the set standards especially in areas such as in Chamwino and Singida and setting aside 5% of the money obtained from the extractive sector each year to contribute towards the agriculture sector.
Furthermore, a member of the parliamentary standing committee commended that taxes imposed on seeds produced locally, causes farmers to prefer seeds from abroad which are cheaper; efforts should be made to ensure that there is a mechanism of constant availability of affordable quality seeds and agricultural inputs.
On compliance to the Malabo declaration, the parliamentarians accepted that there was a need to advise the Government on its adherence to the declaration and that one of the challenges is that the agriculture sector budget is not aggregated, thus it is difficult to ensure that the 10% is met.
One of the Committee members, Hon Dr Christine Ishengoma commented that experience shows that extension officers are placed in areas that they have no competence in for instance, the officer may have capacity on farming, but he is expected to work in livestock sector that’s why they fail to deliver. Increasing their number itself won’t help if they keep going to places they are not meant to.
The Parliamentary committee promised to incorporate insights presented into their report that will be presented to parliament during the tabling of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fishery’s budget.
ActionAid through PFA project will continue working hand in hand with partner organization in agriculture and smallholder women farmer platforms to share analysis reports to the parliamentary members highlighting gaps and recommendations in light of smallholder women farmer needs and priorities to improve agriculture sector.