Farmers seek MPs’ help to pressure the govt to act on sector’s challenges

Mtandao wa Vikundi vya Wakulima Tanzania (MVIWATA) has sought support from legislators in taking to task the government on critical issues facing smallholder farmers in the country.

The organization held the advocacy meeting recently  at the Pius Msekwa conference in Dodoma to engage with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Water.

Accompanied with farmers from different areas and few staff, the MVIWATA executive director Stephen Ruvuga presented real issues constraining smallholder farmers in the country before the committee.

He suggested to legislators to press to the government need to have laws and/ policy that will protect land rights of smallholder producers as opposed to investors, finding lasting solution of the prevailing land conflicts, taming rampant circulation of fake farm inputs (fertilizers, seeds and pesticides) and reinstating strict laws on GMOs in the country.

At the meeting that was chaired by acting chairman Daniel Nsanzugwako, invited farmers informed the committee that there was still confusion between the directives issued by the central government on the ban to use farm gate /barriers levies.

“Whereas it has been abolished by the minister’s announcement, in reality, the councils were still collecting the levies, saying the government just ordered the ban but did not give councils other alternative sources of revenues,” said Hawa Kihwele, a farmer from Mbarali.

There was a consensus that the parliamentarians should present such cases to the respective minister on the matter at the ongoing parliament session.

MVIWATA members present at the meeting got chance to raise voice on need for the legislators to speak on irrigation schemes that were abandoned in different Councils such as in Muleba, where such schemes could have helped farmers to continue with production even during drought season.

Farmers also appealed to members of the committee to pressurize the government on investors who still hold chunks of lands (undeveloped) and that the minister should make the 5th government intention to annul such licenses a reality.

Citing an example, a small-scale farmer Ms Nelly Muhando told legislators that in her Mambegwa village, Kilosa district, about 8,000 acres have been grabbed by investors leaving only 4,000acres for villagers of 1300 households.

She called for swift surveying of the villages to demarcate village borders through Land Use Management Plan to halt land disputes between farmers and pastoralists and between small producers and investors.

Summing up the dialogue, the committee acting chairman Nsanzugwako said that all the concerns were taken on board for further action. However, he insisted that such dialogue be held more regularly every before budgetary sessions so that the Standing Committee (Agriculture) familiarizes with smallholder farmers hurdles and follow them up with the government during and after parliament seating.

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Mbarali pastoralist and MVIWATA member Trugeti Kashu explains to the committee her experiences on land conflicts

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