TANZANIA is in the middle (so to speak) of implementing the 'Kilimo Kwanza' programme that is ostensibly designed to revolutionize Agriculture in the country by 2015 through prioritizing same in the nation's developmental agenda. It should come as no surprise, though, that the initiative by the President Jakaya Kikwete Government (2005?) has been receiving different comments from assorted observers across the board. Dan Mrutu, CEO of the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCoT), gives hope that 'Kilimo Kwanza' (Agriculture First) will rescue Tanzanians from poverty.
“The majority of the citizenry depend on agriculture, although there is need for a major revolution in it,h Mrutu said in an interview with Business Times. He is optimistic that there'll be gradual transformation in the sector leading to self-sufficiency in food, and surpluses for export! “It is true the Kilimo Kwanza initiative will bring fundamental changes in Tanzania, but this cannot happen overnight; there is a need to wait for other developments to support it, such as infrastructure, rural electrification and construction of enough warehouses,” he commented. Mrutu criticized those who do not see anything good in the initiative, by saying that the hand-hoe is now outdated and replacement of this mode of production is a matter of necessity. Janet Bitegeko, executive director of the Agricultural Council of Tanzania (ACT), supports Mrutu, saying there've been big improvements in agriculture from implementation of the initiative. “I've been in agriculture for more than 25 years, it's worthwhile to appreciate the gains of 'Kilimo Kwanza.' The benefits range from improved food security to jobs creation, and is attracting more participants,” she argued. She sees good prospects not only in its commercial aspects, but also in general improvement of nutrition! These views are shared by Isaka Mashauri, the TanSeed managing director and CEO, noting that TanSeed has gained much from the initiative. Arguing that 'Kilimo Kwanza' has come at a good time after many years of neglect of the sector, Mashauri said: “I can assure you the potential is there; but the primary agency for increased agricultural output, and for increased exports of food crops, must be small farmers. But they need support systems like transport infrastructure and rural electrification.” Mashauri says the role of the state will be to provide the favourable working conditions, and keep its own costs down. There's also the need to change the mindsets of government functionaries in favour of the programme. But, there has also been considerable criticism of the initiative...A seasoned Tanzanian economist, Prof. Ibrahim Lipumba, says 'Kilimo Kwanza' is more of a red herring than a blessing.Lipumba, who has lectured Economics and economic adviser for many years before venturing into active politics in the mid-1990s, says the initiative is good theory; but its practical side is poor!
SPEAKING IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH AYUB RIOBA, A LECTURER AT THE UNIVERSITY OF DAR ES SALAAM'S SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM ON MLIMANI-TV RECENTLY, LIPUMBA SAID GGOOD AS IT MIGHT APPEAR, KILIMO KWANZA HAS SIDELINED THE PEASANT FARMER TO THE EXTENT THAT IT HAS INCREASED RURAL POVERTY... WHILE THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE BENEFITING FROM THE SAME PROGRAMME AT THE EXPENSE OF THE POOR MAJORITY!H THIS STANCE IS SUPPORTED BY STATISTICS FROM THE LEGAL & HUMAN RIGHTS CENTRE (LHRC) SHOWING THAT CONFLICTS HAVE INCREASED SINCE 'KILIMO KWANZA' WAS INTRODUCED! APPARENTLY, THE WELL-TO-DO HAVE BEEN GRABBING THE OPPORTUNITIES THUS DENYING SAME TO THE MAJORITY, POOR PEASANTS!ACCORDING TO THE 2011 TANZANIAN HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT RELEASED RECENTLY, 'KILIMO KWANZA' WAS SINGLED OUT AS A CATALYST FOR LAND-GRABBING, SIDELINING SMALL FARMERS AND PASTORALISTS. On page 171, the report says “during the 2011 Human Rights Survey, LHRC interviewed 890 people from different parts of (Tanzania). The basic question was: ‘Do farmers benefit from the Kilimo Kwanza response policy?’ “...67.6 per cent of the respondents said farmers don't benefit from 'Kilimo Kwanza,' while 32.2 answered positively...” Many more commentators said the initiative is good theoretically –and that, if nothing else, it has attracted donor attention. But, in essence, there are many areas to be tackled to make it more reliable and profitable for ordinary Tanzanians! A pertinent comment in the LHRC report on the same page says “the fertilizer subsidy, seeds and agricultural improvements are supplied to well-to-do people, and very little is for peasants with low income!”
Lipumba again: “we have been demoralized by the payments of the voucher system as well as by the little land available for farming; 'Kilimo Kwanza' is of no real benefit”to ordinary Tanzanians!Recently, Star-TV ran a programme in which the executive director of 'HakiArdhi,' Yefred Miyenzi, said “many cases have been filed after large-scale farmers grabbed land for big investment schemes in agriculture."Miyenzi criticized “village executive officers who conspire with bigwigs in the land-grabbing process... After unscrupulous 'investors' have made plans to secure loans from the Kilimo Kwanza Initiative, they use corrupt leaders to secure village land for as little as Tsh2,000 an acre!“After they (villagers) have taken the money and sign away their land, they find themselves at a loss as to what to do, as the contracts they signed are binding, and they cannot recover their land!h JOSEPH CHOMBOLA, A HAKIARDHI LAWYER, SAYS THE EPIRATESF IN THE LAND-GRABBING MANOEUVRES TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WEAKNESSES IN TANZANIA'S LEGAL SYSTEM, AND LACK OF KNOWLEDGE AMONG THE MAJORITY POOR, TO ACCOMPLISH THEIR HEINOUS MISSION. According to Chombola, “the eventual, long-term result is that land-grabbing increases poverty in the country... In the same TV programme, Ms Pendo Omary said a survey sponsored by the Tanzania Media Women's Association, (TAMWA) discovered that land-grabbing has led to increased family conflicts. “In my research in Kilolo District, I discovered that Kilimo Kwanza has caused a lot of problems. It doesn't target helping small farmers – and, instead, removes them from their traditional lifestyles , reducing them to paupers in urban centres,” Pendo said.