Managing risks critical for agriculture,food production’s stable

     In recent years, Tanzania has witnessed a number of climate related disasters namely, flooding, droughts, pests, widespread crop failures, livestock deaths and intensification of climate sensitive diseases among others.

The effects of climate change in the country are widespread and significantly interfere with agriculture, while at the same time, reducing the ability of the society to deliver services. Generally current climate variability in the nation is an issue of concern for all future plans and must be addressed.

Officiating the virtual online National Policy Dialogue Workshop on agriculture and food systems resilience on behalf of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, early this week, Director of National Food Security Unit, Dr Honest Kessy said that the aim of that online meeting was to update the stakeholders of the Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF), AFRICAP project, midway implementation progress.

And provide them with opportunity of further engagement and deliberations to ensure that the project continued to make relevant and constructive contributions resilience and sustainability of the Tanzanian food system.

The virtual online National Policy Dialogue Workshop on agriculture and food systems resilience was organised by ESRF and partners.

Dr Kessy said that in the Tanzanian context, climate change was a reality in a way that climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture have been severely affected in most cases.

According to Dr Kessy, “Climate change imposes production risks in major food crops such as maize, rice cassava, and beans. Adding: And this makes food and economic features less optimistic in this industry,” he explained.

He further noted that, moreover, the budgetary state to address the situation and build resilience in five key fostering areas of irrigation, soil, water conservation, research, extension and rural infrastructure was high.  Dr Kessy said that managing the related risks in agriculture, food production was critical to ensure increased and stable growth of the agriculture sector.

“This has raised concerns among scholars, policy, makers, development partners and lead researchers leading to consensus that climate change needed to be addressed using various measures.”

He said that in the rising of agriculture food security in transforming economy, the government through its agriculture lead sectoral ministries in collaboration with other stakeholders has been implementing the agriculture sector development programme phase two (ASDPII).

According to Dr Kessy, the ten year programme that started in 207/18 to 2027/28, is aiming at transforming agriculture sectors including crops, livestock and fisheries towards high production, commercialisation, improving small scale farmers’ income, livelihood, food and nutrition security.

He said that in response to this, the Tanzanian government in partnership with different stakeholders have been implementing a range of adaptation interventions guided by the national environmental policy, national agricultural policy, national climate change strategy, agricultural climate resilience plan, among others.

Dr, Kessy further noted that the government has remained optimistic that successful implementation of the GCRF-AFRICAP project in the country would yield into facilitating a productive development of sustainable climate smart agriculture systems in a bid to meet food and nutritional demands as well as traits of the food crops.

Giving an overview of the project to the stakeholders through that online meeting from the UK, Associate Professor of Environment & Development Sustainability Research Institute School of Earth and Environment University of Leeds, Dr Susannah M. Sallu said that the project aimed at building capacities to the identification and implementation of evidence based policy pathways towards sustainable development goals compliance in climate smart agri-food systems.

“The project is very much in conducting research and capacity building activities to support climate smart agri-food systems so that will increase agriculture production and also nutrition and health provision.”

Dr Sallu said that their project is being implemented in four countries namely Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and South Africa.

She mentioned some of the objectives of the project are to undertake research to characterize the context in which they are working and build evidence based and build capacities on agri-food systems.

To use that scenario as a tool into interdisciplinary learning about agri-food systems and resilience. To explore the long term sustainable development goals compliance of proposed pathways of change and build policy and practice capacity to translate evidence into needed change.

To also build capacities and knowledge to communities on how to use infrastructures required for addressing interdisciplinary knowledge gaps and managing research in respect for potential benefits.

She further said; “Tanzania is a country that faces significant agri-climatic risks. And a large portion of the population rely and is dependent on rain-fed agriculture being a common thing.”

Dr Sallu noted that there was always high risk of malnutrition and that viability was exacerbated by climate change…

According to her, the Tanzanian national policy was very progressive in that place in terms of building climate change into planning and programmes on the ground.

And the climate resilient plan in particular has been very much aligned to African related objectives. And the climate resilient plan has been very much mainstreamed into ASDPII as it has been introduced by Dr Kessy earlier.

She said; “The Africa project is not only in position to support the implementation of this active programme but also to feed information and research findings into the development towards in terms of policy.

The ultimate aim of the project was to reduce the impacts of climate change to the most vulnerable part of the society.

Giving the giving her insights from capacity building activities on food system resilience in both Muheza and Lushoto in Tanga Region,  Shakwaanande Natai from the Tanzania Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance (TCSAA) said that despite significant investments in the two Districts, yet knowledge and application of national policies, strategies and plans on Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) at local level by extension officers was still limited (except Lushoto district).

“Many farmers have low knowledge and skills required for sustainable agribusiness development. Most farmers also have limited knowledge of monitoring and evaluation, areas that are critical to developing resilient food systems,” she noted.

She therefore proposed for a need to consider how to scale up information sharing to other districts across the country where there are no CSA activities.

She further suggested for an opportunity of using the lessons obtained by the Agricultural and Food Systems’ Resilience: Increasing Capacity and Advising Policy (AFRICAP) initiative to support the dissemination, capacity building and awareness creation of the national CSA policies, strategies, plans and guidelines and inform future policy conversations in Tanzania.

The GCRF-AFRICAP is a 4-year (2018-2021) regional project implemented in Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and South Africa.

In Tanzania, this project is coordinated by the Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF) as a node hosting institution of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) and implemented in collaboration with researchers from University of Leeds, University of Aberdeen, the UK Met Office, and Chatham House.

The project builds on existing partnerships with National Meteorological Services, Agricultural Research Centres and Universities in Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and South Africa.

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