Bashe charts new course for agricultural growth corridors

Hussein Bashe, Minister for Agriculture
The Guardian | 10 June 2024

Bashe charts new course for agricultural growth corridors

On April 19, this year, Dodoma was setting for a significant advancement whereby the government through the Ministry of Agriculture and many stakeholders, participated in the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) 3rd National Consultation on its journey ttoward transforming entity into the Agricultural Growth Corridors of Tanzania (AGCOT).

This critical event emphasised the nation's dedication to rejuvenating and advancing its agricultural sector through strategic and well-coordinated national agricultural corridor initiative.

The meeting served as a platform for strategizing the implementation of the AGCOT rollout, building upon the knowledge and achievements gained from the about ten years of implementing SAGCOT initiative.

Tanzania plans to expand corridor initiatives beyond the SAGCOT areas, focusing on the Mtwara, Central, and Northern Corridors. The new corridors will follow a similar approach to the SAGCOT area, taking into account the specific agricultural zones in each corridor. Existing agribusinesses and previous research findings will be considered in the design and implementation of AGCOT, with a focus on leveraging existing infrastructure and investments in roads, ports, airports, and electricity.

The goal is to improve productivity, enhance Tanzania's competitiveness in domestic and international markets, and facilitate access to inputs and capital to support agribusiness development. The initiative will also prioritize compliance with Tanzania's commitments to sustainable use of natural resources and inclusivity especially that of women and youth, and will incorporate climate-smart production practices.
 
 Hussein Bashe, Minister for Agriculture, stressed the importance of adopting a comprehensive strategic approach to developing agricultural corridors in Tanzania. He emphasised the need for strategic alignment to leverage their economic potential fully, proposing a well defining the corridors based on ecology, economic activity, and export potential.

He also underscored the necessity of financial investment in these corridors. 

“We must openly discuss how we will finance these corridors," he stated, adding: “We must explore opportunities for intelligent financing mechanisms to support their development and sustainability.”
 
 Bashe urged stakeholders to adopt a forward-thinking perspective, envisioning the trajectory of agricultural corridors over the next several decades. 

"We must not only focus on the present," he urged. "We must develop a roadmap that guides our actions for the long term."
 Highlighting the potential of high-value commodities, Bashe encouraged a shift in focus towards crops such as avocados and mangoes, which have a higher market value.

He emphasised the importance of comprehensive planning and investment in seedlings and technology to support these crops highlighting the potential of high-value commodities.  

Bashe encouraged a shift in focus towards horticultural crops including fruits as avocados and mangoes, which have a higher market value, stressing the importance of comprehensive planning and investment in seedlings and technology to support these crops' cultivation effectively. 

Bashe highlighted Tanzania's agricultural corridor's competitive advantage and emphasised the importance of aligning agricultural production with economic activities.
 
 "We must recognize the competitive advantage of Tanzania's agricultural corridors," Bashe asserted, "and align them with our economic objectives. Viewing these corridors solely through the lens of food security is no longer sufficient. We must consider the broader economic activities they support." Emphasising collaboration, the minister urged SAGCOT to work closely with Cereals and Other Produce Regulatory Authority (COPRA) in corridor development.
 
 Bashe urged stakeholders to adopt a forward-looking approach, envisioning the trajectory of agricultural corridors over the next several decades. "We cannot afford to think only about the present," he urged. "We must craft a roadmap that guides our actions for the long term."

 Bashe also called for clarity on the required public sector investment and the development of models to demonstrate the economic benefits of investing in agriculture. 

He emphasised the need for collaboration between the Ministry of Agriculture and other government agencies to ensure the success of agricultural corridor development initiatives.

Geoffrey Kirenga, SAGCOT chief executive officer, led a comprehensive review session attended by various stakeholders representing the governmental and private sectors. The one-day meeting, which delved into an in-depth analysis of SAGCOT's progress since its inception, was facilitated through the Zoom platform to ensure broad participation and expert insights. 

Kirenga highlights the collaborative synergy between governmental bodies and private enterprises in driving the agricultural agenda forward. With a strong focus on tangible achievements, Kirenga emphasized the transformative impact that SAGCOT has had on Tanzania's agrarian landscape.
 
Directing attention to untapped opportunities beyond the current scope of operations, Kirenga identifies corridors such as Mtwara, Central, and Northern as prime locations for agricultural development initiatives. This strategic shift towards expansion aligns closely with the directives issued by President Samia Suluhu Hassan, demonstrating a broader commitment to elevating Tanzania's agricultural sector.

Prominent stakeholders at the meeting include representatives from government ministries overseeing agriculture, livestock, and fisheries and private sector entities such as ASTA and the Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA). Their collective contributions underscore the collaborative ethos driving Tanzania's agricultural agenda.

Kirenga and other stakeholders stressed the need for stakeholders to take action on the matters discussed during recent engagements. Moreover, it was affirmed that the Agriculture Growth Corridors of Tanzania is already underway, with plans to formally introduce it to the public.

Since its inception in 2011, SAGCOT has been at the forefront of agri-development across the Southern Highlands region. Tailored to the ecological nuances of the respective areas, SAGCOT has thrived on partnerships between the government, the private sector, civil society, and the international community.

Through these collaborations, SAGCOT has streamlined value chains for priority crops, ensuring improved access to inputs for farmers, technology adoption, enhanced market penetration, and climate-smart agriculture.

SAGCOT has facilitated the streamlining of value chains for priority crops, ensuring improved access to inputs for farmers, technology adoption, enhanced market penetration, and climate-smart agriculture.
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