Food security should of paramount priority
18th October 2012: The global food situation is no doubt getting more precarious as the days go by, going by the assessments that experts monitoring trends are giving.
This is despite the advances made in the production sector, which could have eliminated the problem years ago.
Jose Graziano da Silva, director general of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says it all with the latest hunger monitoring figures which reveal that one person in every eight goes hungry. “That is unacceptable, especially when we live in a world of plenty,” he says, reminding us that we live in a world that has advanced rapidly in farming technology, working with genetically modified seeds, green houses and other scientifically tested methods of raising agricultural productivity beyond what was imagined before.
Yet we see a tightening food situation reflected more clearly in the rising prices which threaten to put food plates out of reach of more of the vulnerable groups around the world.
Nothing can make nations more insecure than food shortages. Indeed the first indicator of families living in poverty is their lack of food security at household level.
Tanzania needs to maintain a very close eye on its food situation in light of global developments.
The country is still considered food-insecure, though it is rated as better off than the other Eastern and Central African countries. Not such an encouraging situation, especially since we know that this has prompted smuggling to cash in on the shortages beyond our borders.
We know that the touted sufficiency is only marginal, with a number of areas in the country now reporting serious food deficits and asking for government intervention.
Reports for example point out that despite being self-sufficient in food production since 2005, posting a significant surplus in 2007, food deficits have been reported in various regions around the country.
Recent World Food Programme data shows that 23 percent of all households in rural Mainland Tanzania are food insecure, with the most affected being in Dodoma, Manyara and Morogoro.
While appreciating the efforts that have gone into and are still being channeled into the agriculture sector, we feel that more needs to be done to secure the food that is produced under the current technologically backward conditions.
Sadly a report by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, shows that despite a fairly good maize harvest which is the nation’s staple food, not enough funds have been set aside to restock the National Food Reserve.
Permanent Secretary Mohammed Muya said yesterday in Dar es Salaam when briefing the parliamentary Agriculture, Livestock and Water Committee that only 7.3bn/- has been provided for the purpose, adding:”It is not enough for the purchase of 2000 tons of maize for the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA), especially at this period when maize is at its peak. There are100,000 tons of food in the reserve, yet we need at least one hundred and fifty thousand tons to be on the safe side.”
We must put more effort into the proposed public, private partnership drive to buy up and preserve the food for a more secure future. We know that we still face a serious problem of storage capacity at the family level, and thus much of the food crop may be lost here.