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w250.jpgTanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete recently sat down for an hour-long interview with AllAfrica's Reed Kramer and Tami Hultman at State House in Dar es Salaam. In the wide-ranging conversation, he addressed issues of health, education, corruption, food security, regional integration, civil society and economic growth. Here are President Kikwete's observations, beginning with climate change.

What are you doing along with other African leaders, to make a difference on climate change?

First, let me express my deepest appreciation that there is now a greater awareness of the whole issue of climate change than there was in the past.

I think that is because all of us are beginning to feel the effect of climate change.

There now has been rainfall unreliability for the past three years, consecutively, and we don't have good rains in many parts of the country.

This year there is drought in the areas of the country that border Kenya, and the Masai that live along the border are suffering immensely. They have lost a lot of their cattle. There is no pasture, no water for their cattle. It's a very disastrous situation. The changing water patterns are very much a factor of climate change, and it has dawned on us that this thing is real.

We have problems, also, with rising sea levels. Along the coast here, many of the wells that used to have fresh water now have salt water. Sea water has come into those wells.

I come from Bagamoyo, just north of here. We grew up using water from wells. Now these wells don't have fresh water anymore. So you can see the effects.

There is one island north of Bagamoyo - Maziwe, near the coastal town of Pangani - that used to be the breeding place of the green turtles. It has been totally submerged. Disappeared! The turtles had to move along the coast. So we have these real problems.

Essentially it is a question of increased carbon dioxide - carbon emissions. We're not responsible for that. Of course, cutting trees can also contribute, but we have not cut so much. We have set aside close to 30 percent of our territory for conservation - conservation of wildlife and forest reserves. Of course, the charcoaling in urban areas involves a significant cutting of trees. But comparatively, you cannot blame that for the global warming.

What we're saying is that those who are responsible for huge carbon emissions into the atmosphere that cause the problems of climate change should take responsibility. We want equal, but differentiated, responsibility. This is the catch-phrase that we use.

Fortunately, these developed countries have the resources for reducing carbon emissions. But, also, they have the technology to prevent more emissions into the atmosphere. We just want them to do what should be done.

I think what is really lacking is political will. For us, we are busy with adaptation and mitigation. And for that, as well, we need the support of developed countries.

In the town I made reference to, Pangani, we are now building a huge wall.

Otherwise the town will also be submerged, inundated. These are now the measures we are taking for adaptation.

For mitigation, we need to continue to preserve our forests. The only problem is if you preserve the forests you are not rewarded for it. You're only rewarded if you cut and plant, so maybe we [need to] cut and plant, but we don't want to be irresponsible!

We hope the meeting in Copenhagen will be a meeting of hope. The new administration in the U.S. has given us hope that they will be more responsive to the needs of climate change. All our eyes and ears are looking at Copenhagen.

Increasingly, international bodies are saying that there is a need to help Africa's rural farmers. What is your opinion on rural agriculture and how it figures in Tanzania's development?

Agriculture is everything here, because 85 percent of our people live in the rural areas. They depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Many of our industries here are agro-based - cotton ginneries, the textile mills, food processing plants. We think agriculture is critical for us, and we are giving agriculture the due emphasis that it is supposed to have.

When we came to office, we came up with an agricultural sector development program. It is a huge program, a seven-year development program - about a U.S. $2.1 billion program - with the main aim being to modernize our agriculture; increase the use of irrigated agriculture - right now I think it's about two percent only; increase the use of high-yielding seeds.

We're not using much of that. We're developing our own capacities to develop those seeds by supporting our research institutions, with two percent of our budget set aside for our research institutes as a whole, and agriculture would benefit from that.

We're also looking at increasing the use of fertilizers. The average use of fertilizers is only eight kilos per hectare. When you compare with the Netherlands, which is about 577, you see that we're doing nothing!

We're not yet there.

Besides that, we've come up with a comprehensive program for subsidies - subsidies for high-yielding seeds, subsidies for fertilizers, for herbicides and pesticides - to make it easier for the poor farmers to be able to get fertilizer and seeds. And it has paid dividends. In the southern highlands, after we increased support for agriculture, we think we're going to get a four-million ton surplus of maize this season.

Will you export the surplus?

We use it for our own consumption, and then the surplus we would sell.

We also are looking at how to impart skills for farmers so they will be able to use agronomic methods well. The issue here is getting extension workers. Last year, we set aside a budget to employ 3,500 new extension workers to help the farmers, to train the farmers, to impart skills to the farmers.

And then we are looking at the crop-marketing system. We've had problems with the crop-marketing structure. When the farmers don't have access to markets, if the markets are not there, if the pricing of commodities is not favorable, then they simply lose interest.

We're also looking at rural infrastructure, to improve the roads so that farmers can get inputs easily and, at the same time, make it easy for farmers' crops to get to the markets. This is part of a comprehensive program. Also included in that plan - we want to move slowly from the hand hoe to the oxen plow and to mechanization.

Last year, we suspended buying motor vehicles for the government, and the money that we saved was devoted to getting tractors to our district councils, and then they could sell them to cooperatives of farmers. We created a revolving fund. When they pay back, then we will bring in more tractors. So we agree that for two years, we are not going to buy government vehicles, unless very essential.

We say agriculture is everything. Besides that, we've also been looking at the value additions. We're now trying to encourage the manufacturing sector for agro-processing industries to be established. The new thing which we have done: our agriculture is essentially peasant agriculture; the private sector has not been actively involved - so we had meetings with them, and we agreed now to launch the campaign that has come to be known as 'Kilimo Kwanza' [Agriculture First].

This is a new motto for sensitization, for increasing awareness. It is targeted at the private sector. Let them be big farmers, be involved in agriculture as big farmers. Of course, peasant agriculture is important, but we also need large-scale farmers.

For the private sector to produce, they need to get involved in the production of inputs. We're producing 75 percent of our seeds. Our only weakness has been building capacities for seed multiplication, and for this we need large-scale farms. This is where we want our private sector to participate. We want them to produce pesticides and herbicides.

Our new 'Agriculture First' motto is a new spirit now. We want to continue to modernize the peasant agriculture, but now involve the private sector to come and be, as farmers, producing for the agriculture sector - but also consuming products from the agriculture sector. Add value. Export or sell locally.

Source: http://allafrica.com/stories/200912180913.html

Tag(s) : #Société-Guinée