By Felix Andrew
THE Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF) has organized a public seminar to be held in Dar es Salaam next week that would challenge and suggest ways of improving agriculture sector in Tanzania.
A statement issued by the Foundation said the seminar themed: Long Term Structural Change in Tanzanian Agriculture - Food Crops as Cash Crops and the Policy Implications will be delivered by renowned economist Prof Brian Van Arkadie on 22th August.
The seminar aims at challenging some of the dominant perspectives/approaches for agricultural and development and offer some alternative suggestions for fostering rural economy in Tanzania.
Its objective is to review and describe the performance of agricultural sector in Tanzania since independence and the corresponding approaches for agricultural and rural development
Conventional interpretation of agriculture sector performance in many records presents a disappointing performance picture. Historically, the dominant view that agriculture has been quite stagnant has always been spurring a search for new approaches to “transforming” agriculture.
Nevertheless, there have been profound changes and significant progress in many aspects of the rural economy, with a realistic economic response to evolving market opportunities and significant progress in living conditions.
If this perception is correct, it is misleading to characterize the rural economy and smallholders as inherently “backward” and unresponsive to potential opportunities; nor the failure of so many agricultural interventions be ascribed to an inherent resistance of small farmers to change. For it is not small farmers who have failed to identify and exploit potential development opportunities, but rather the “experts” who have designed and implemented flawed rural programs.
From 1989 to 2015 Prof Van Arkadie has been involved in many missions advising the governments such as the reform process in Viet Nam, the economies of the Baltic States and economic policy in Tanzania. In 1991- 92 he facilitated funding for the establishment of the ESRF.