‘IT is fairly safe to assume, we believe, that the ‘Agriculture is the backbone of the nation’s economy’ policy statement has, in varying degrees, vanished from the memory of many people, more-so young generation members.
Part of the explanation lies in the fairly long-time mismatch between words and actions. The current push by Tanzania towards industrial economy status, stems from the country being part of the global village.
But agriculture’s pride of place remains intact, one of the manifestations being the annual agriculture exhibitions (Nanenane), the latest of which climaxed yesterday.
The Fifth Phase government deserved kudos for its initiatives to restore the sector’s importance. For farm work provides food for people’s sustenance, is a source of cash crops for export as well as internal trade, and raw materials for some local industries.
Under the ‘Hapa Kazi Tu’ clarion call, farms should be centres into which many people should invest their energies. Progressively, though, some have tended to perceive it as unviable.
The not-too-friendly environment upsets adults who stay put in villages, while many youngsters migrate to urban centres, pulled by the mostly deceptive ‘land of plenty’ allure.
Some are sucked into petty thievery, full-blown crime, illegal dealfixing, prostitution, drug addiction. Others are idlers engaged excessively in non-productive pastimes like playing pool, chatting centres (vijiwe) and ‘serving’ as touts at bus stages and terminals.
On a positive note are open-air food vendors, boda-boda taxi operators, mobile hawkers (machinga), and salon service providers. The President periodically pleads their cause, stressing that a conducive environment should be created for them to survive, rather than subjecting them to periodic running battles with security corps.
But he simultaneously underscores agriculture’s central role in the nation’s economy and social welfare. During regional tours, he directs that parts of undeveloped chunks of land entrusted to public institutions and non-serious investors be repossessed by the State and parceled out to needy peasants.
He also reiterates the abolition of bothersome levies that frustrate peasants and dampen their zeal, but in the same vein stresses that farm work is crucial and that lazybones aren’t entitled to food.
The government’s agriculture-promotion zeal has set the sector on an earnest recovery course. Peasants’ spirits are being revived, youngsters will gradually embrace it as a guarantor of respectable livelihoods, and citizens will constitute a happy community of collective winners!
It would be the climax of fixing the mismatch between a country richly endowed with abundant land and other natural resources, hosting poor people.