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Relief for farmers after virus impact

The Agriculture ministry has allocated Sh272 million for countering Covid-19 effects that were felt in 2020.
The ministry’s representative, Ms Daines Philip, made the statement yesterday when making a presentation during a workshop on the effects of Covid-19 on farming and food security in the systems of food production, distribution and sales on the African continent.
The three-day workshop was organised by the Eastern and Southern African Farmers Forum (ESAFF) and involved different stakeholders including farmers, food vendors, businesspersons, transporters, councilors and leaders of marketing.
During the symposium, Mr Philip said, as other sectors of the economy affected by coronavirus, the government had realised that there was a need of allocating the cash that would be spent on different activities for three years.
She mentioned such activities as providing emergency support to household farmers affected by Covid-19 and improving agricultural services, working tools in agricultural areas, extension services through phones, Tv, radio and stepping up the use of forums to reach out farmers. She said Covid-19 in the agriculture sector also disrupted the entire value chain of inputs due to the closure of borders between China and India, the rise of the price of fertilizer that delayed to arrive in the country, the reduced prices of agricultural products in markets and the fall of incomes.

The chairman of ESAFF, Mr Apollo Chamneka, suggested that an official system of distributing inputs be launched due to the fact that Covid-19 was still ravaging the world as a third wave of the disease had already hit the country.
“Besides the issue of inputs, there is a need of improving extension services to be online so that many farmers can be reached all the time even if during outbreaks of epidemics and annually allocating a 10 percent budget on agriculture as per the Malabo Declaration,” he said.

Earlier, opening the workshop, Dar es Salaam City Deputy Mayor Saady Khimji said despite a number of challenges caused by Covid-19, proposals made by participants in the workshop should be presented to local government so to see how best a good environment could be created for every group to conduct their activities for the prosperity of the nation, especially in major food producing districts.

For his part, ESAFF coordinator Joe Mzinga said the aim of bringing together the stakeholders was to compare notes among themselves, and also obtain their recommendations on what should be done in encountering the effects of Covid-19 on the issue of food availability.