Tanzania cautioned of the 'Dutch Disease' threat to agriculture

29Jan 2016
Prosper Makene
The Guardian
Tanzania cautioned of the 'Dutch Disease' threat to agriculture

DISCOVERY of massive gas reserves in the southern regions should not be

allowed to jeopardise agriculture lest the country suffers from the ‘Dutch

Disease’.

Farmers field day in a rice fertilizer trial

Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries advisor Prof David Nyange

on Tuesday cautioned African governments which have discovered oil and gas

to take precautionary measures to ensure that human capital does not

target the extractive industries only.

Speaking on the sidelines of a two-day Agribusiness Congress of East

Africa, being held in Dar es Salaam, Prof Nyange said that countries such

as Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda whose economies are

traditionally dominated by agriculture, stand high risk of ignoring this

vital sector.

The term ‘Dutch Disease’ was coined in 1977 by The Economist to refer to

the decline of the manufacturing sector in The Netherlands after the

discovery of the large Groningen natural gas fields in 1959.

Prof Nyange disclosed that discovery of such massive resources tends to

raise public expectations but unfortunately cannot automatically create

jobs or wealth.

“Oil and gas revenues could be invested in sectors with the potential to

promote broad-based growth such as agriculture and light manufacturing,”

he advised.

He stressed that because 75 percent of the population is employed in the

agricultural sector, it is imperative that the sector gets massive

investments to help fight poverty.

Prof Nyange said despite the impressive macroeconomic performance and

overall economic growth for many years,the economy has not been all

inclusive, hence leaving a third of the population living below the

poverty line.

Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Dr

Florence Turuka said the government has taken various measures to enhance

domestic, regional as well as international trade in commodities including

agriculture produce.

Dr Turuka said Tanzanian farmers should take advantage of the available

market opportunities under bilateral and multilateral trade pacts.

He pointed out that policies and measures have been put in place to ensure

that imports of agricultural commodities do not discourage agribusiness

activities locally.

“As government, we recognized the potential that agriculture holds for

economic growth and poverty reduction. Small scale farmers are the largest

investors in agriculture, thus we have to embrace small scale farmers as

they are significant players in agribusiness,” the PS underlined.

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