By Azania Post Reporter
THE government has been asked to improve local infrastructure that would enable agricultural inputs including extension officers to move through countryside and visit farmers hence improve the industry.
The advice was delivered yesterday in Dar e Salaam by the renowned Economist, Prof. Brain Van Arkadie, during a public seminar that discussed long term structural change in Tanzanian Agriculture. The half day seminar was convened by the Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF).
Prof. Van Arkadie
Prof. Van Arkadie said there is no point in employing extension staff if the means are not available for them to visit their clients.
“With improvement of local transport infrastructure it should be possible for extension officers to move through the countryside on motor bike,” he said.
He also said that grass roots contact between government agricultural service and small holders is intended to be through extension service.
“In the last few years government has been making efforts to boost effectiveness by recruiting more extension officers, however such service does not have a good record of productivity”, he said
However, the don, said extension is likely to be productive if it responds to the real needs of farmers and provides knowledge of new seeds and crops and highly specific help with handling crop pests.
ESRF Executive Director Dr Tausi Kida
“For such productive advice to be available, extension has to be final link in a two way chain, backed up by effective research and input supply,” he suggested.
He noted that in recent government has made efforts to rebuild the extension service , but needs to go much further in thinking through how it can aid the development of small holder farming, rather than again chasing illusions of transforming agriculture and making big breakthroughs through large scale mechanised farming.