Tanzania: Fertilizer Firms to Benefit From Policy Shift.

OVERHAUL ING the current fertilizer subsidy policy is expected to benefit companies as the newly launched study into why the status quo has not succeeded, plans to work on the existing gap on information flows.

According to the Assistant Director of Agricultural Inputs at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Co-operatives, Dr Mshindo Msolla, there are currently two areas where lack of information with regards to fertilizer use results in either higher costs or inefficient use of inorganic fertilizer for smallholder farmers.

He told ‘Business Standard’ over the weekend that a new study with the objective to improve advisory services on fertilizer-use would increase fertilizer usage. It would also facilitate private- public partnership forums for dialogue with policy makers on alternative delivery and financing mechanisms for the subsidy.

“First, farmers generally have very limited scientific information on the proper agronomic use of fertilizer on their crops in the particular agro-ecological conditions under which they farm,” he said. He told ‘Business Standard’ that there has generally been a weak agricultural extension system, mainly caused by implementing the structural adjustment plans whereby the agricultural extension staff were mostly affected.

“Thus to achieve the policy objective, the government needs to be sensitised on the need to allocate more funding to the delivery of fertilizer recommendations through the formal extension services based on evidence of the potential benefits,” he said. In a new two and half year study therefore, they intend to evaluate the current voucher system, returns to extension, fertilizer price build up, impact of removing VAT on fertilizers and a feasibility study of scaling up local fertilizer production.

He said the study follows preliminary evidence that shows the current fertilizer subsidy system has not yet benefited the ultimate target of the programme — the smallholder farmer. Dr Msolla said the issues to be covered in the new policy study include; how to improve implementation of the fertilizer subsidy to be handled by the Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF), improvement of investments in extension and advisory services on fertilizer-use to be handled by the Ministry of Agriculture and the integrated soil fertility management technologies.

Source: Tanzania Daily News

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