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Tanzania gives priority to irrigation projects to ensure food security

Tanzania will focus on developing irrigation farming to help ensure food security in the country

The country's Hai district executive director, Melchizedek Humbe, said the district had set its annual budget estimates at US$1.7 million and would give priority to irrigation farming.

The Hai district is located in the Kilimanjaro region and has frequently faced food shortages due to insufficient rains.

Humbe said the district had 28,000 hectares suitable for irrigation farming, but only 12,000 hectares had been utilised.

Following insufficient rains during the 2011/12 season, emergency food had to be supplied to famine-stricken families, Kenyan authorities said. The district would need at least 40,000 tonnes of food to feed nearly 100,000 people who might face food shortages due to poor harvests.

The Hai district used to be one of the food baskets for Kilimanjaro region, especially for maize cultivation in the lowlands stretching from the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro to the Moshi-Arusha highway.

In another development, the US has announced a grant of $9.5million for renewing the infrastructure of the 30-year old Dakawa Irrigation project in Morogoro, which was in a dilapidated condition.

The Feed the Future Programme fund would be used to install modern pumps, build new pump house and reconstruct primary, secondary and tertiary canals leading to rice farms to enable farmers to fully benefit from irrigation farming.

Over 2,400 Dakawa rice farmers and their families depend on the Wami-Dakawa River to irrigate their rice crop.

Feed the Future Programme deputy team leader David Nyange said the engineering design had already been completed and they were waiting for the conclusion of this year's harvest season next month to start construction work.