The governments of China and Tanzania have vowed to cement the prevailing cooperation in agricultural technology, particularly on rice production by using hybrid rice from the Far East Asian country.
The hybrid rice can produce between nine and 12 tonnes per ha, more than four times the yield of the local rice.
At present, the average rice yield in the country is 1.95 tons per hector.
Speaking a reception for new Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania Lu Youqing in Dar es Salaam at the weekend the Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Christopher Chiza said the hybrid rice seeds would enable farmers to produce enough rice for domestic consumption and export. The reception was held in tandem with the showcasing agricultural achievements by the Chinese Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centre.
He said though Tanzania has enough food reserves, the price of rice is still high because of the increased demand caused by neighbouring countries.
He said the Rice Demonstration Centre at Cholima in Dakawa, Morogoro Region is clear testimony that Tanzania can produce much of the crop to feed the horn of Africa countries.
Chiza said Tanzania has 44 million ha suitable for agriculture, but only 10.1 million ha are cultivated. He added that there are 29 million ha for irrigation farming, but only 381 ha are operating with the assistance of the government.
Chiza said they are going to discuss the possibilities for Chinese support in setting up processing industries to facilitate exportation of value added products.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania, Lu Youqing, said once the project is fully implemented, Tanzania would no longer need to import rice.
“China-Tanzania Agricultural Technology Cooperation has brought tangible benefits to Tanzanians, many Chinese enterprises are engaged in agricultural and other development activities in Tanzania,” he said.
Youqing said apart from rice, in Morogoro Region, they have planted 1,333 ha of sisal employing more than 1,000 Tanzanians, with an annual output of 2,500 tonnes of sisal fiber.
Chinese companies, he said, have also provided technical training and seeder machines to local cotton farmers in Morogoro, Shinyanga, Mwanza and Mara regions, adding that the current cotton production of USD900m would be doubled to USD1.8bn with the application of Chinese cotton growing technology.
“We hope the cotton industry will become the largest foreign currency earner in Tanzania and lift millions farmers out of poverty,” he noted.
The demonstration centre at Dakawa is a result of Beijing Summit of Sino-Africa Cooperation Forum, where Tanzania and China signed the agreement for its establishment.
It covers a total of 62 ha which include three sections namely, office and training, experiment and display and production and demonstration area.