FAO to help set up farmers’ bank

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has promised to help Tanzania establish an agricultural bank that would cater for farmers and boost farm output in the country.

The organisation has also said that it would continue to support efforts by the government in a quest to improve farming methods and the welfare of farmers. FAO Director General, Dr Jose Graziano da Silva, made the pledge during talks with President Jakaya Kikwete.

The president had hinted to Dr da Silva on government plans to establish the bank with a view to empowering farmers in the country. “This is a great idea; I did not have the opportunity to hear about such great plans.

My promise to you is that FAO will communicate with the United Nations (UN) Secretary General to see how we could be of help in establishing the bank,” said Dr da Silva.

He also praised the government for its efforts in subsidising farmers, but noted that subsidies on farming inputs are not a sustainable means for the crusade. He said that the best way is to start a bank that would give loans to farmers.

Dr da Silva invited President Kikwete to two major events to be organised by FAO including the organisation’s annual general meeting to be held in Rome, Italy, between June 15 and 22, this year.

He also invited the president to a special meeting to launch a campaign to end famine in the world by 2025, slated for July 1, this year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In another development, the government has asked Japan to assist in providing Tanzania with science and mathematics school teachers.

The Asian nation has also been asked to help train Tanzanian teachers as a way of ending the prevailing shortage in the country. The government has also asked for help in publishing science and mathematics text books. The idea is to have every pupil and student get a copy of the books.

The trend would help improve the quality of education. President Kikwete made the plea when he met with the President of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Dr Akihiko Tanaka in Yokohama on Monday. 

Mr Kikwete told Dr Tanaka that the main challenge that afflicts the education sector in Tanzania is shortage of science and mathematics teachers and text books.

The problem has been growing over the years but has been most critical in the past seven years. “There are two things I would like to ask JICA to help us with. We have a shortage of 26,000 science and mathematics teachers. Our colleges can only produce 2,200 teachers a year.

This means that it will take us 12 years to make up for the difference,” he said. “On top of that we also have a shortage of books, thus I ask JICA and the Japanese government to help us publish science and mathematics books,” he said.
Source: The Daily News, reported from Yokohama, Japan
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