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Tanzania yet to transform agriculture in accordance with the Maputo Declaration

by Grace Kisembo

Officials from Tanzania and several other African countries descended on Maputo, Mozambique’s capital, in 2003 intending to transform the continent’s agriculture.

After a few days of reminiscing about how important agriculture was for Africa’s future food security, officials agreed to devote at least 10% of their national budgets to agriculture, to begin with, in what became known as the Maputo Declaration.

The Declaration was a bold statement that revealed the political will African leaders had to transform agriculture in the continent. It reads in part: “We, the Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU), assembled in Maputo at the Second Ordinary Session of the Assembly, 10 to 12 July 2003; concerned that 30 per cent of the population of Africa is chronically and severely undernourished; that the Continent has become a net importer of food; and that it is currently the largest recipient of food aid in the world; resolve to IMPLEMENT, as a matter of urgency, the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and flagship projects and evolving Action Plans for agricultural development, at the national, regional and continental levels. To this end, we agree to adopt sound policies for agricultural and rural development, and commit ourselves to allocate at least 10 per cent of national budgetary resources for their implementation within five years.”

Political will, however, is one thing and action is another. About 18 years after the Maputo Declaration Tanzania has yet to allocate 10 per cent of its budget to agriculture. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) earlier this year released an analysis report that showed that Tanzania and 13 other major agriculture producers have allocated only about 6 per cent per country of public financial resources.

The failure to allocate 10 per cent is because of many priorities and limited financial resources. But it also shows that as it comes to agriculture it is easier to talk about it than to take concrete actions to improve it.

And this happens despite constant pressure from various groups and repeated reminders from activists to Tanzania and other governments that urge them to honour their pledges.

On March 1, 2012 activists and farmers’ representatives from across Africa marched for one kilometre the from the Institute of Finance Management (IFM) to the State House in Dar es Salaam to hand former President Jakaya Kikwete’s petition signed by over 16,000 of them urging the continent’s leaders to increase budgetary allocations to the sector as per the Maputo Declaration.

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