25 October 2013 – Tanzanian minister for agriculture, The Hon. Christopher Chiza, visited CABI headquarters today to discuss partnerships in agriculture and sustainable development. Keen to meet institutions with expertise in crop management, fertilisers and plant pests and diseases, Mr Chiza said, “I see there is a lot we can do together with CABI, like improving the precision of our plant health data collection – CABI has already been involved in plant health clinics through Plantwise in Tanzania.”
CABI’s Chief Financial Officer, Ian Barry, welcomed Mr Chiza and his delegation of experts and politicians, illustrating the work of CABI in agriculture, international development and scientific publishing, as well as reviewing existing projects where CABI has worked with Tanzania, such as the African Soil Health Consortium and the Good Seed Initiative, and discussing areas for potential future cooperation.
Talking about what can be done to tackle food security, Mr Chiza said, “We want to dramatically increase Tanzanian output of maize, rice and sugar and we hope to do this by letting the private sector play a bigger role in agricultural production. Without the private sector we won’t be able to achieve the scale of results we’re looking for. Based on a hub and spoke model, with large scale commercial farmers working as a nucleus in the centre of groups of smallholders, we’re hoping that opportunities for learning good practice in marketing and technology will cross-fertilise from commercial producers to smallholders, lifting them out of subsistence farming.”
CABI has recently spoken out on a similar model of linking large scale and smallholder farmer agendas. Earlier this month, on World Food Day, CABI’s CEO, Dr Trevor Nicholls, talked about the need to address food waste by better integrating smallholders into the global food supply chain and helping them understand and implement simple principles of supply chain management.
Talking about his wishes for food security, Mr Chiza commented, “One message I would like to put across is the need to address price volatility. For us this is a big issue. We’re trying to get farmers to grow surplus food for export but what seems to be impacting them is price volatility. In Tanzania, I see that we can use price stabilisation funds to tackle cash crop price fluctuation. But to me it’s an issue that should be looked at very broadly at an international level.”
Tanzania is a founding member country of CABI. Ian Barry said, “I’m delighted that Mr Chiza and his delegation visited CABI today. It’s given us an opportunity to strengthen this already long standing relationship and look for areas where we can collaborate further. For the specific issues that Mr Chiza wanted to discuss – such as plant and soil health, and ways of linking smallholders into commercial supply chains – CABI has a wealth of expertise to share. We look forward to supporting the minister with future agricultural development in Tanzania.”