Home The News: Experts dig deeper for reasons why Tanzanians remain poor
Experts dig deeper for reasons why Tanzanians remain poor
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Friday, 03 June 2011 05:31

ERIC TOROKA

EXPERTS in various fields have continued to outline vital strategies for the Government in Dar to boost economic growth and  improve the living standards of its people.This comes in the wake of recent reports citing President Jakaya Kikwete and Premier Mizengo Pinda as saying that they don't know why Tanzanians are so poor, even when the country is abundantly endowed with natural and other  resources!

“The reasons why Tanzania and other developing countries are poor are crystal clear – despite its abundant natural resources.,” said the executive director of the Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA), Jacqueline Mkindi.

“Tanzania is endowed with good agro-climatic conditions, water sources, competitive labour, arable land, etc.  It is now 50 years after independence and what have we done to reduce poverty in this country? There's still perpetual dependency on foreign aid,” she admonished.

“Tanzania's economy is undermined by insufficient support infrastructure, low human capital and, in particular, some counterproductive policies with endless obstacles to private investors.

“Economic growth doesn't require a secret formula,” she pointed out, noting how countries from Asia to Latin America have emerged from poverty – unlike Tanzania, which has failed to realize its vast potential 50 years afterindependence!

“Sometimes poverty is optional; and Tanzanians' poverty has been optional for fifty years! There is a lot we can learn from Asian and Latin American countries on what they did to be where they are today – practically engage the same knowledge and techniques for the betterment of our country.  We have to transform our country into a learned nation,” Mkindi said.

Mkindi commended the Government for coming up with the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Policy in 2004, and called for its implementation in earnest.

Agricultural projects and programmes should be structured to address farmers’ incomes, nutrition and market challenges. They should support local farmers in rural areas and other players in the value chain.

“The Government should also evaluate existing infrastructure –  airports, ports, roads and other market structures – and come up with practical plans to revitalize them in support of agricultural investment,” Mkindi stated. 

NOTING THAT CAPACITY BUILDING PROGRAMES ARE FUNDAMENTAL TO EMPOWER FARMERS TO PERFORM EFFECTIVELY IN DIFFERENT AGRICULTURAL VALUE CHAINS, SHE SAID “MECHANISMS TO PROMOTE ADEQUATE INFORMATION FLOW AMONGST DIFFERENT PLAYERS IN VALUE CHAINS ARE CRUCIAL IN BREAKING THE POVERTY VICIOUS CYCLE.

NOTING THAT TANZANIA IS ONE OF THOSE COUNTRIES WHICH ARE GOOD AT FORMULATING VERY GOOD POLICIES,” MKINDI ARGUED THAT “THESE ARE JUST DOCUMENTS THAT REQUIRE STRATEGIC PLANS TO REALIZE THEM. AND OF COURSE, GOOD GOVERNANCE IS ANOTHER BIG ISSUE IN TANZANIA TODAY!”

“WE HAVE HEARD A LOT IN THE PAST ONE YEAR, AND NEW SCANDALS ARE STILL EMERGING ON HOW GOVERNMENT RESOURCES ARE BEING DREADFULLY MANAGED, AND BENEFIT VERY FEW INDIVIDUALS, LEAVING THE NATION AND PEOPLE DRY. ARE WE STILL QUESTIONING OUR POVERTY STATUS?” SHE RHETORICIZES.

“I PERSONALLY SALUTE THE SUPPORT THIS COUNTRY IS RECEIVING FROM THE DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS. I READ FROM ONE PAPER THAT MORE THAN TSH4 TRILLION IS SPENT ON CONSULTANCY SERVICES ANNUALLY IN TANZANIA. AND IT IS  EXTERNAL CONSULTANTS ENJOYING MOST OF THIS CAKE, LEAVING LESS THAN 30 PER CENT TO LOCAL PROFESSIONALS.”

“THERE MAY BE GOOD GROUNDS FOR THIS. BUT. DO WE HAVE EFFECTIVE TOOLS FOR MEASURING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE AID, THE DIFFERENT CONSULTANCIES AND THEIR IMPACT?” SHE WONDERS. 

Previous studies have shown that small-holder farmers have low incomes as a result of poor productivity and lack of markets for their produce, hence live at high poverty levels.

Mkindi said this is mainly because the farmers are unable to apply the best pre-harvest and post-harvest practices for the highest returns. One of the serious challenges facing small-holder farmers in Tanzania has been a lack of credit facilities to support meaningful participation in horticultural activities.

A recent survey by TAHA/TAPP revealed that the banking sub-sector doesn't have services specifically targeting small-holder horticultural farmers. 

“The Government has made efforts to support farming activities by, for example, the creation of 'Kilimo Kwanza' credit programmes. But the banks – who are the implementing partners – have no faith in small-holder farmers and, therefore, the money either remains in the banks or is lent out to other sectors of the economy,” Mkindi revealed.

IT IS IMPORTANT TO MENTION THAT THE TANZANIA INVESTMENT BANK (TIB) HAS BEEN FUNDED BY THE GOVERNMENT UNDER THE 'KILIMO KWANZA' PROJECT (AGRICULTURAL WINDOW) AND HAS VERY ATTRACTIVE TERMS THAT COULD REALLY APPEAL TO FARMERS' ORGANIZATIONS.

“THERE IS, THEREFORE, A VAST OPPORTUNITY FOR BANKING INSTITUTIONS TO PARTNER WITH INDUSTRIAL ORGANIZATIONS TO ESTABLISH REVOLVING CREDIT SCHEMES AS ONE OF THE MOST VIABLE WAYS OF DOING BUSINESS WITH FARMERS IN THIS COUNTRY,” SHE ADDED.

ELSE – AND TANZANIANS WILL CONTINUE TO WALLOW IN ABJECT POVERTY TILL KINGDOM COME!

FOR HIS PART, PARASOL REAL ESTATE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, BERNARD KIHIYO, SAID “MAJOR PROBLEM HERE REGARDING POVERTY IS SELFISHNESS OF OUR LEADERS GENERAL... THIS HAS MADE ORDINARY TANZANIANS FAIL TO FORMULATE IDEAS WHICH WOULD LEAD TO DEVELOPMENTAL ACTIVITIES.”

KIHIYO, WHO IS ALSO THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TANZANIA CONSUMER ADVOCACY SOCIETY (TCAS), CITED AS AN EXAMPLE LONDON ROADS WHICH WERE BUILT IN THE 1870S, AND ARE STILL SERVICEABLE TODAY. “BUT IN TANZANIA, THE LIFESPAN OF MANY ROADS IS ONLY A FEW YEARS!”

HE ATTRIBUTED THIS TO EXCESSIVE GREED ON THE PART OF SOME LEADERS WHO ENTER INTO DUBIOUS DEALS WITH CONTRACTORS AND SUPPLIERS.

“CHECK THE ABUNDANT NATURAL RESOURCES WE HAVE BEEN BLESSED WITH, BUT WHICH OUR LEADERS SQUANDER WITH IMPUNITY, OR ARE USED UNWISELY...”

NOT ONLY NATURAL RESOURCES, THE MAN SAID, ADDING THAT BUSINESS DEALS INVOLVING PUBLIC PROPERTY ARE ALSO FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED, CITING PRIVATIZATION OF PUBLIC ORGANIZATIONS SUCH AS THE TANZANIA RAILWAYS CORPORATION (TRC).

IF THE RESOURCES WE HAVE WERE PROPERLY UTILISED, KIHIYO SAID, “THIS  WOULD HAVE SEEN THE ECONOMY MORE THAN TEN TIMES BIGGER!”

KIHIYO HAS ALSO RECOMMENDED OVERHAULING THE EXTANT EDUCATION SYSTEM TO ENABLE STUDENTS PERFORM BETTER NOT ONLY IN CLASS AND EXAMINATIONS, BUT ALSO IN REAL LIFE LATER.

INNOVATION MUST ALSO BE ENCOURAGED AND REWARDED, KIHIYO SAYS.

“RECENTLY, THERE WAS A MAN WHO CAME OUT WITH INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY TO GENERATE UP TO 3MW OF ELECTRICITY. SUCH PEOPLE SHOULD BE SUPPORTED TO MAKE TANZANIA'S ECONOMY VIBRANT,” HE SAID.   

“If we earnestly support innovative Tanzanians, we could make strides in socio-economic development rapidly.”

TURNING TO AGRICULTURE, KIHIYO PROPOSED FULL AND BETTER USE OF OUR LAKES, RIVERS AND GROUNDWATER FOR MODERNISED IRRIGATION FARMING, AND DOING AWAY WITH THE HAND-HOE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.

“FRANKLY SPEAKING, THE WAY FORWARD FOR THE AGRICULTURE SECTOR IS THROUGH IRRIGATION FARMING,” HE SAID, CITING ISRAEL, A DESERT NATION-STATE, AS EXEMPLARY IN IRRIGATION FARMING. ISRAEL IS CURRENTLY THE BIGGEST FRUIT EXPORTER WORLDWIDE, HE NOTED.

“This could also easily help to feed industries and consumers for the next 100 years.”

KIHIYO ALSO TOUCHED UPON THE NEED FOR ENHANCED ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION, INCLUDING TREE-PLANTING AND JUDICIOUS USE OF FORESTRY PRODUCTS, IN A CONCERTED FIGHT AGAINST POVERTY.


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