Statement by Hon. Charles N. Keenja (MP)

Minister for Agriculture and Food Security

At the Twenty -Third Session of the FAO Regional Conference for Africa

1st  5th  March 2004




Johannesburg, South Africa

March 2003

Mr. Chairman,

FAO Director General,

Your Excellencies, 

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


1.                  Mr. Chairman, on behalf of the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, my delegation that includes Hon. Mussa Silima MP. Minister for Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Cooperatives of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar and on my own behalf, I would like to thank the FAO Secretariat for availing me this opportunity to address this Twenty-Third Session of the FAO Regional Conference for Africa.  I am also thankful to the Republic of South Africa and its people for the warm welcome they have accorded to the Tanzanian delegation arrived in this beautiful country.


2.                  Mr. Chairman, may I take this opportunity to congratulate you for being elected to Chair this Conference. Your election indicates the confidence we all have that you will ably steer the deliberations taking place and that the conference will achieve its objectives. We would like to assure you of our full support and cooperation.


3.                  May I also take this opportunity to commend the Director General of FAO, His Excellency Jacques Diouf, and the FAO Regional Representative for Africa Mr. Joseph Tchicaya and the staff for their excellent work and success in organizing this important Regional Conference.

4.                  Mr. Chairman, this Conference is taking place at the time when the per capita food supply in Africa has been falling continuously for the last five years.  As a result, our people are becoming increasingly food insecure and incidences of malnutrition are still widespread.  It is estimated that about 30 percent of the people in Africa are facing chronic malnutrition.  Another serious challenge to food security and poverty eradication is the widespread and devastating effect of HIV and AIDS pandemic, which has affected lives and livelihoods of the majority of our people particularly rural agricultural communities.  The challenge that we have is on how best we deal with issues and constraints so as to overcome the year-to-year variability in food and cash crops production as well as those of distribution and access to food.  And once we have done so, to maintain such a momentum.


5.                  Mr. Chairman, in seasons when there is adequate rainfall Tanzania is able to produce enough food to meet its requirements and export the excess to neighboring countries. In such good years, food insecurity becomes mainly an issue of distribution.  However, in the event of drought, floods or other natural disasters the country experiences shortages of food. On the average in the past decade, Tanzania was 95 to 97 percent food self-sufficient.


6.                  In the 2002/2003-production season, poor and erratic rainfall performance adversely affected food production in many parts of the country. Food production for 2002/2003 was 7.55 million tons, which was less than the production in 2001/2002, which was 8.57 million tons. The total national food requirement for 2003/2004 is estimated to be 8.37 million tons, implying a food gap of about 800,000 tons. However, with the carry over stocks, the food gap was adjusted to about 350,000 tons.


7.                  As a result of drought and low food production, about 2 million people in 56 districts were identified as vulnerable to food insecurity. The vulnerable people require some 77,500 tons of food between October 2003 and March 2004.  The Government has already taken steps to ensure that the affected people have access to relief food, various crop seeds and fertilizer. We thank all the development partners for their assistance in the supply of relief food and crop seeds through WFP and FAO respectively to the vulnerable populations.


8.                  Mr. Chairman, in the past 10 years, the agricultural sector contributed an average 46.1 percent to overall GDP and grew at an average rate of 3.7 per cent per annum.  In the past three years from 2000, 2001, 2002 the sector has been growing at 3.4, 5.5 and 5.0 percent respectively.  The recent drop in growth was mainly due to bad weather conditions and outbreaks of crop pests and diseases. During 2002, the Tanzania economy as a whole grew by 6.2 percent. However, for agriculture to make a substantial impact on economic growth, poverty reduction and food security, it must grow at an average rate of 10 to 11 percent per year.


9.                  Tanzania adopted the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy in 2001 and is now implementing the Strategy mainly through the District Agricultural Development Plans.  The strategy conforms to and provides the basis on which the Millennium Development Goals will be implemented at the grassroots level.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the development partners including FAO for their continued support in the formulation and implementation of the Strategy.


10.              Mr. Chairman, in the past decade, under the leadership of His Excellency President Benjamin William Mkapa, we have made substantial progress in developing the necessary capacity to for fighting poverty.  Most progress was made in areas such as reforming macro and sector policies, strengthening the capacities of public and private institutions, liberalization of goods and service markets, introduction and operationalisation of incentives to attract investment, and further strengthening peace and political stability as a way of ensuring sustained growth.


11.              Despite the efforts being made by the Government and the fair rate of growth recorded in recent times, the agricultural sector continues to be affected by a number of problems which include inadequate of resources for investment, over reliance on rain-fed agriculture, low and falling commodity prices in the world market, low productivity and inadequate processing of commodities. These problems, coupled with unpredictable weather and the effects of the HIV/AIDS and other pandemic diseases such as malaria and water borne diseases have remained a constant threat to our people.


12.              Mr. Chairman, in view of these problems, Tanzania has identified several priority areas for immediate intervention. These areas include:-


(i)            increasing productivity of land labour and production inputs through the use improved seeds, inputs and crop husbandry practices. It has been widely demonstrated that it is possible to increase productivity significantly through observing recommended practices;


(ii)          Increasing food supply and food security by assisting low-income households to produce more food and cash crops, livestock and marine products, to feed their families and generate cash for non-food needs. This also includes reducing the level of post harvest losses.


(iii)         Reducing over-dependence on rain-fed agriculture (through promotion of irrigated agriculture).  Tanzania is implementing several measures designed to realize and utilize its existing irrigation potential of 29.4 million ha.  The measures are now outlined in the National Irrigation Master Plan.  The plan has identified existing land, water resources and social economic potentials for development of irrigated agriculture in Tanzania.


(iv)        Strengthening access to capital and financial services through developing an efficient systems for financing the agricultural sector and at the same time provide a framework for empowering producers through access to credit.


(v)          Improving rural infrastructure and trade-related services and capacities for market access.  Improved road network, including farm-to-market roads, will increase farmers’ access to inputs and markets as well as value of farm produce.


(vi)        Controlling and timely managing crop pests and diseases.  Due to the recurrence nature of crop pests Tanzania is strengthening its capacity to manage and control pest infestations in particular migrant outbreak pests such as armyworms, Quelea birds, rodents and locusts. 


(vii)             Promoting of sustainable utilization of natural resources and environmental protection. Tanzania being party to several international conventions, agreements and treaties relevant to the agricultural sector, is committed to strengthen its capacity to its compliance capacity failure of which may lead to negative impacts such as loss of markets and destruction of our environment.


(viii)           Developing and promoting an enabling environment (framework conditions for development) such as formulation of appropriate policies and ensuring their compliance through enforcement of appropriate legislation and timely access to reliable information services.


13.              Mr. Chairman, Tanzania has subscribed to the broader principles of NEPAD initiative.  Since its inception in 2002, Tanzania has participated in most of the fora at both political and technical levels.  Most recently, we participated in the African Ministerial Meeting in 6th December 2003 in Rome, Italy and the Meeting of Ministers and Experts on Agriculture and Water from 9th to 10th February 2004, Tripoli Libya. In addition, Tanzania has requested FAO’s assistance to identify and formulate bankable investment projects for implementation of CAADP. Currently we are preparing the National Medium Term Investment Plan, which will lead to the preparation of bankable projects.


14.              Mr. Chairman, I would like again to draw your attention to issues of forestry and fisheries. Global forest resources assessments still indicate continued widespread deforestation in Africa due to wild fires and logging among others affecting food security and the environment. Regarding fisheries, Africa is still faced with illegal unreported and unregulated fishing activities. Therefore, there is an urgent need to take action towards full implementation of The Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.


15.               Mr. Chairman, our level of preparedness to meet emergencies related to food need to be heightened.  We see that there is a need to link the produce markets within our sub-regions and the region as a whole so as to improve response to crises, food availability and access where food has to be sources from another country to address shortages.  Instead of looking outside, regional solutions should be explored first.  This will mutually benefit our countries in terms of markets, reduced costs of transportation as well as the speed for responding to food emergencies.  Mechanisms should therefore be put in place in this direction.


16.              Mr. Chairman, in conclusion, food insecurity, environmental degradation, HIV and AIDS, malaria and waterborne diseases are still impacting negatively in our people’s developmental efforts.  As a continent, we still have a lot to do to overcome these problems.



 Thank you for your attention