- Tabora area leader Batilda Burian has invited investors to seize investment options in Tabora irrigation schemes
- The call follows Tanzania move to launches pilot block farming projects dubbed Samia Block Farms.
- Irrigation remains the key to commercializing agriculture in rural Tanzania.
Agriculture contributes nearly one-third of Tanzania’s GDP and employs 75 percent of the population, making it a pillar in addressing the country’s food security.
While Tanzania enjoys a tropical climate with two rainy seasons, rain-fed farming is limiting the country’s agricultural potential as unpredictable weather patterns due to climate change intensify. To achieve its national goal of commercializing and mechanizing the agriculture sector to fix food security needs, Tanzania has little choice but to adopt irrigation for year-round farming activities.
For this purpose, Tanzania has set up the National Irrigation Commission, a unit that is charged with facilitating and promoting irrigation in the country. According to the Director of the National Commission of Irrigation, Mr. Daudi Kaali, the entity plans to raise 30 billion Tanzania shillings to help consolidate the National Irrigation Fund.
The director said the funds will be raised by working with key industry stakeholders to improve its fees and collections initiatives. He urged irrigation engineers, agricultural officers, and irrigation associations to coordinate the collection of fees and charges.
The director pointed out that the ongoing heavy rains posed a great risk to irrigation infrastructure and called on the stakeholders to be vigilant. Already, flooding across the country has destroyed infrastructure and damaged farms, he noted.
The Great River Ruaha, which runs some 475km and feeds several irrigation schemes, including the Magozi, Liganga, and Mkombilenga Scheme, poses a great risk of breaking canal barriers. The director lamented that the needed rehabilitation of the river basin and irrigation canals would cost several million dollars.
In the same vein, Tanzania’s Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa has also called for national intervention to protect the irrigation infrastructure. He cited damages to the Hombolo scheme and the risks it poses to the country’s food security.
RC Batilda Burian invites investors to Tabora irrigation schemes
Tabora RC Batilda Burian has called on local and international investors to seize investment opportunities in the Tabora Region. She points out that Tabora has vast farming areas, underground water, and favorable weather for farming.
She notes that the Tabora Region has its own zonal irrigation office that is responsible for conducting irrigation project feasibility studies with a focus on underground water sources and rain runoffs.
It provides technical support to LGAs and the private sector as well and is also in charge of mainstreaming irrigation to regional farmers. The office handles data collection and ensures quality control of irrigation and drainage infrastructure.
“The Tabora irrigation officers are charged with facilitating adaptive and applied research for irrigation and drainage purposes, promoting water-saving irrigation technologies, and adoption of renewable energies for irrigation and drainage purposes,” comments the Tabora RC Burian.
In her press address following the heavy rains, the RC said it is vital for irrigation officers to promote the use of locally available construction materials to minimize maintenance expenses.
She urged the promotion of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and called for the Basin Water Boards to end bureaucracy in issuing irrigation permits.
She cited that the Tabora Zonal Irrigation Office covers three Regions: Tabora, Shinyanga, and Simiyu, making an integral part of national food security.
The RC cited ongoing rehabilitation works for some 20 irrigation schemes in Nzega District, Tabora Region, which she said will significantly help improve food production and security for the entire country.
Samia Block Farm: Tabora Irrigation case study
The Tabora Regional Commissioner cited an irrigation scheme named ‘Samia Block Farm’, which is in Nzega District, Tabora Region, and sources its water from the Kilimi Dam noting that it uses an automated pivot irrigation system.
Recently, President Samia Suluhu Hassan visited the pilot project to lay a foundation stone and pledged a government allocation of 6.2 billion Tanzania Shillings for the completion of the first phase of the project.
The project covers an area of over 1,100 hectares, including 140 hectares of water catchment area and another 97 hectares reserved for the dam that will feed some 860 hectares of farming land.
RC Burian explained that the project will help increase the production of seeds that will, in turn, supply the rest of the country. Tanzania’s seed demand is over 120,000 tonnes, yet the national production capacity is 40,000 tonnes, which is a mere third of the national demand.
“We are now importing seeds in excess of 60,000 tonnes annually. It is expensive for the country, and we are still left with a deficit of over 20,000 tonnes,” RC Burian noted.
Based on the Samia Block Farm production projections, by 2025, the scheme will allow the country to meet 75 per cent of its seed demand and by 2030, the project will see Tanzania meet and surpass its seed demand.
As of 2020, the Tanzanian government set out plans to build new agricultural irrigation systems, charged to the Tanzania National Irrigation Commission (NIRC).
The government dedicated $426 million to build some 384 new irrigation systems over a five-year period. The projects were slated for eight regions, including Dodoma, Kilimanjaro, Mbeya, Morogoro, Mtwara, Mwanza, Tabora, and Katavi.
The project has now been realized under the second phase of Tanzania’s Agricultural Sector Development Program, which reaches completion at the end of 2023.
Overall, Tanzania has launched the cultivation of some 11,453 hectares for block farming. The project is meant to increase youth participation in agriculture. It is also part of the national initiative to commercialize agriculture and increase its value chains. The idea is that through the commercialization and mechanization of agriculture, the country will achieve its industrialization goals.
By mechanizing agriculture, the related value chains will spark the building of production and manufacturing plants, which will, in turn, create employment for the youth.
“Agriculture value chains will also increase internal revenue collection and catalyze the export of agricultural products,” said RC Burian.
Schemes employing the youth
The RC pointed out that for the project to work, irrigation schemes must be developed and revamped where they have failed. The Tabora region has so far been at the forefront of developing irrigation schemes and employing youth.
RC Burian also emphasized that cultivation of these project farms under the Samia Block Farm scheme will go in tandem with the drilling of dams which will provide the needed water for irrigating the farms. In the nation’s capital Dodoma, the project is been conducted by the National Irrigation Commission in collaboration with the Dodoma Urban Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (DUWASA).
“In Dodoma, we have three block farming initiatives for Tanzania youth so this is the first one. The second is in Bahi district whereby at least 3,560 acres of land have been set aside for wheat farming and the third project is in Chamwino district which covers 8,000 acres,” notes Hussein Bashe, the Minister for Agriculture.