Speaking in Dodoma recently, Hasunga (pictured) noted that the country has produced food crops at the rate of 123 per cent. The excellent production has enabled Tanzania to export some of its surplus grain to other countries and organisations.
This month, President Magufuli witnessed at State House the signing of an agreement under which the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) will sell to the World Food Programme (WFP) 36,000 tonnes of maize at a cost of 21 billion/-.
The consignment is part of 160,000 tonnes of food worth 132.2 billion/- which WFP bought in Tanzania in 2018. In 2017, WFP spent 63.6 billion/- to buy food in Tanzania.
Minister Hasunga said in the 2017/2018 season, food production reached 16,981,974 tonnes, comprising 9,537,857 tonnes of grains and 7,354,117 tonnes of other crops.
He said according to statistical estimates, Tanzania needs 13,569,285 tonnes of food crops in 2018/2019 to record a 124 per cent Self Sufficiency Ratio (SSR).
He broke down maize production over the past three seasons to 6,273,150 tonnes in 2017/2018, down from 6,680,758 tonnes in 2016/2017, while it was 6,148,699 tonnes in 2015/2016.
Food needs over these three seasons however around the 5,200,000-5,400,000 mark per season.
The minister said this enabled the country to have food surpluses of 810,760 tonnes in 2018/2019, against 1,273,259 tonnes in 2017/2018, and 946,284 tonnes in 2016/2017.
On rice, Hasunga said production in 2017/2018 was 2,219,628 tonnes, while for the 2016/2017 and 2015/2016 seasons the figures stood at 1,593,609 and 2,229,071 tonnes respectively.
This was way above needs averaging 920,000 to 990,000 tonnes per season, enabling the country to record rice surpluses of 1,229,583 tonnes in 2018/2019; 669,175 tonnes in 2017/2018; and 1,252,146 tonnes in 2016/2017.
According to the minister, the excess foods have enabled Tanzania to continue being a food basket in the region. Exemplifying, he said according to Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) data, between June 2017 and June 2018 a total of 64,477.95 tonnes of maize worth 90.6 billion/- and 99,434.45 tonnes of beans worth 222 billion/- were sold to DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan and the United Arab Emirates.
He further noted that between 2015/2016 and 2017/2018, production of traditional cash crops picked up. He gave an example of cashewnuts as one of the crops which recorded an upsurge in production.
Cashewnut is now grown in 12 regions and 90 councils following a programme introduced by the government in 2013/2014 to boost production of the crop.
Hasunga listed regions which lead in cashew production as Mtwara, Lindi, Ruvuma, Coast and Tanga. In recent years, five more regions have started to grow the crop - Singida, Dodoma, Morogoro, Mbeya and Njombe.
Minister Hasunga said as of December 29 last year, a total of 450 cooperative unions in cashew growing regions had been verified and 231,937,341,674/- deposited in their bank accounts.
He said out of the amount, 210,485,753,571/- went straight to the farmers who sold 70,284,043 kilos of cashewnuts.
A total of 195,175.844 tonnes of the crop have been transported to main warehouses while 35,175.844 tonnes have been stored in reserve warehouses.
Meanwhile, minister Hasunga said the use of improved cotton seeds has also increased in cotton growing regions, from 14,500 tonnes in 2015/2016 to 18,500 tonnes in 2017/2018, with a target of reaching 25,000 tonnes in 2018/2019.
He said until now a total of 27,769 tonnes of cotton seeds have been distributed to farmers representing 37 per cent of 20,284 tonnes of seeds requested by the districts.
On the other hand, Hasunga reported that production of tea has also increased from 32,628 tonnes in 2015/2016 to 34,010 tonnes in 2017/2018.
He said a system to involve cooperatives in tea buying has helped to increase the price of the crop from 251/- per kilo of green tea in 2015/16 to an average of 314/- in 2017/18.
The value of exported tea has also increased from $51,794,854 in 2015/2016 to $62,167,167 in 2017/2018.
Production of sisal has also gone up from 39,393 tonnes in 2015/16 to 43,279 tonnes in 2017/18, with the price of one tonne of UG grade also jumping from 2.2 million/- in 2015/2016 to 3.33 million/- in 2017/2018.