President Jakaya Kikwete gestures as he delivers the keynote speech at the opening of a two-day workshop on economic strategies to reduce poverty organised by Research for Poverty Alleviation (REPOA) in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday. (Photo by State House)
Development of agriculture sector will continue to be a key agenda in the country’s socio-economic transformation, President Jakaya Kikwete said on Wednesday.
The president said improvement of agriculture which is the country’s economic mainstay would help build capacities for other essential sectors.”If agriculture will be transformed, other sectors, including agro-processing, manufacturing and service industry will benefit. That will improve the income and living standards of many,” Mr Kikwete said.
The president was opening the 17th Annual Research for Poverty Alleviation (REPOA) meeting in Dar es Salaam.The theme of the 2-day event is ‘Socioeconomic Transformation for Poverty Reduction in Tanzania,’ and has drawn participants from Africa and beyond.
Mr Kikwete noted with concern that the economy has been growing at an average rate of 7 per cent for the last decade while poverty reduction rate has remained very low.”Even between 2001 and 2007, when the economy was growing rapidly, overall household poverty fell 2 per cent only, from 35.7 to 33.6 per cent,” he said.
He was also concerned that subsistence agriculture was growing at between four and eight per cent, while other sectors such as telecommunications, went up 20 per cent per annum. “That explains why the rate of poverty reduction is low because the majority of people are least affected by the rapidly growing sectors,” the president said.
Mr Kikwete was however, optimistic that things would change for the better, saying the government has identified most of the constraints to agricultural growth and transformation.”The bottlenecks are familiar to us and the Agricultural Sector Development Programme and Kilimo Kwanza initiatives are addressing them,” he said.
Addressing the meeting, the Executive Secretary of the Planning Commission, Dr Philip Mpango, said economic transformation would be attained only if people had positive attitude towards growth.”We need to launch a fierce battle against corruption, laxity, over-dependence and vandalism of public infrastructure,” Dr Mpango said.
The Netherlands Ambassador, Dr Ad Koekkoek, said Tanzania has an advantage of natural resources and cheap labour but has not utilized them effectively.”Tanzania has more cattle than Kenya for example, but has been outshone by its neighbor in milk processing,” he said.
The REPOA Board of Directors Chairperson, Prof Esther Mwaikambo, expressed her appreciation of the government support in knowledge creation.Invited discussants from Vietnam and China, Prof Do Du Dinh and Prof Li Xiaoyun respectively, said the transformation process requires strong leadership and implementation of government programmes.
By ALVAR MWAKYUSA, Tanzania Daily News