In Sub-Saharan Africa, heavy reliance on rain-fed agriculture renders farming communities more vulnerable to effect of climate change and variability resulting in widespread food insecurity and poverty. Climate change and variability present new challenges particularly for smallholder farmers whose main stay is agriculture. Providing food for the future will require a holistic approach in order to produce on less land and by using appropriate methods. Farming communities and researchers are obliged to re-evaluate mainstreaming of farming practices and techniques and look for ways of securing food through adoption of conservation agriculture, integrated livestock keeping, fish farming and agro-forestry.
High dependence on rain-fed agriculture and poor soil health increases vulnerability of farming systems and predisposes rural households to food insecurity and poverty thus eroding their productive assets and weakening their coping strategies and resilience to external shocks. Increasingly, the onset, duration and intensity of rains vary considerably from year to year, while the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as drought and floods are on the increase with devastating impacts on the national economy and the livelihoods of the people. Moreover agricultural seasons in some areas of the country are expected to shift. Drastic and innovative measures are therefore needed to help farmers and consumers cope with the changes in emerging and projected weather patterns.
The most affected will be the rural poor, who are dependent on farming as a livelihood. Because of their poverty status, they have less ability to accumulate and protect assets and have the least adaptive capacity to respond to climatic shocks occasioned through extreme events as well as variability in weather during the cropping seasons. Changes in climate may be faster and more intense than in the past and existing knowledge on approaches and practices in agriculture may not be sufficient to address the adaptation needs.
To ensure that the country is food secure and for food producers to improve their livelihoods, climate smart agriculture (CSA) is the most appropriate approach. The CSA approach would ensure sustainable increase in agricultural productivity; build resilience in food systems and adapt to climate change; reduce food losses and waste; and contribute to the reduction and removal of greenhouse gas emissions, where possible.
I believe that this CSA Programme, which is the result of a collective, sector-wide consultation effort, places Tanzania firmly on a new and ambitious growth trajectory for the future. We recognise the vital role that agriculture must play in growing the economy and creating decent jobs. In this respect, the agriculture sector as a whole is determined to optimise its contribution.
The successful implementation of this programme will require multi-level partnerships between the public and private sector, civil society and citizens. I acknowledge with appreciation the constructive and cooperative relationships we have already built in this regard with all parties involved.
I believe that agriculture in this country will grow from strength to strength. This, however, will require a shift in the way we do things, in line with the new strategic approach.
Finally, I would like to thank the many people who have contributed to the development of this programme. Our thanks to the panel of 10 experts from across all stakeholder groups in the sector, chaired by Ms. Shakwaanande Natai, for the pivotal role they played in guiding the development of the Programme, and for their commitment to the process. I would also like to express our appreciation for those who submitted comments and made inputs that tmade the document better. We are grateful for your commitment and dedication to walk this path with our Ministry.