Tanzania has launched a 12-year plan to boost rice production and forestall a food crisis in the region.
The National Rice Development Strategy programme launched last month is part of the Coalition for African Rice Development, which is aimed at feeding East Africa.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Mathew Mtingumwe said they are looking to raise annual rice production from 2.2 million tonnes to 4.5 million tonnes.
The strategy will be implemented between the government, with funding from the World Bank, Japan International Co-operation Agency and the Africa Development Bank.
Tanzania’s main food crops are maize, rice, sorghum, millet, legumes, roots and tubers, horticultural crops and coconuts, all largely produced by smallholder farmers.
Maize and rice are the most important staple foodcrops grown in most parts of the country. About two million farmers grow rice.
Mr Mtingumwe said his ministry has prioritised rice cultivation for local consumption and export to neighbouring countries.
Rice production is among the major sources of employment and income for many farming households, the Ministry of Agriculture said in a recent report.
The demand for rice in Tanzania reached 2.05 million tonnes in 2018 and it is projected to increase by 2.9 per cent during the next five years to 2.27 million tonnes.
The Ministry of Agriculture is now wooing new rice growers through technical and training support from the Food and Agricultural Organisation.
Over the years crop production in Tanzania has been dropping partly due to low or non-adoption of recommended agricultural production practices and lack of fertilisers.
Counting below average rains and drought, Tanzania stands among African countries south of the Sahara facing a food crisis with a sharp rise in prices for cereals mostly in its northern, western and southern agricultural regions.
Looking to develop and boost agricultural production, Tanzania has sought Israel’s support in training in modern farming technology and agribusiness investments.
Israel has offered over 100 scholarships to Tanzanians studying agricultural production and agro-business studies.