It is a pity that while Tanzania’s economy has grown in the past decade; poverty has continued to ravage a huge majority of the people. According to the latest Poverty and Human Development Report (PHDR) the economy grew steadily from 4.1 per cent in1998 to 7.4 per cent a decade later.
Surprisingly, however, the number of poor people equally increased. This means, the economic growth hasn’t been trickling down to the common man, who has been contending with non-ending rise of prices of essential commodities.
The Report shows that growth has mostly been felt in the mining, education and roads sectors. But these mostly are capital rather than labour-intensive, which means they don’t employ that many people who might have gained from them.
The economy could have benefited more people if more investments were channeled to agriculture, for instance. For, the fact is, this is the sector that sustains over 90 per cent of Tanzanians who are rural dwellers.
Most of these villagers comprise people who eke out a living by tilling the land with the backward hoe, for they can’t afford mechanized farming. Worse still, the price of fertilizers is beyond them.
There is a need to put in place a mechanism to enable our farmers to access bank loans more easily, if they are to improve productivity. Most banks in Tanzania have stringent regulations most of which our farmers cannot meet.
The agricultural sector could be the prime mover of the country’s economy but sadly, it is not. Had most of the 7.4 per cent growth that the country experienced been in the agricultural sector, we could today be talking of Tanzania as reasonably prosperous country.
Let us face it: our country’s immediate salvation from poverty lies in agriculture. Unless we revolutionize this sector, we are likely to remain bogged in the ranks of the world’s poorest nations for a long, long time to come.
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