TANZANIA – China’s CHONG Zhongyi Co Limited and St Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT) have signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance novel rice production in the country.

The main agenda of the MoU is to promote best practices in rice production in the Lake Zone regions.

As part of the agreement, the two will collaborate in supply of agricultural inputs, share modern technology and supply of seeds among several initiatives geared towards sustainable rice production.

It targets provide SAUT students with broadened knowledge and skills related to paddy production in addition to adequate empowerment into self-employment ventures.

According to Mr Zou Biao, a Chinese representative of Chong Qing Zhongyi Co Limited, the company will enable the university to register technological headway.

Speaking on the matter, SAUT University demonstration farm supervisor, Mr Zephania Ihuya commented that institution was doing everything in its capacity to ensure that rice production in the Lake Zone was enhanced.

With the new technology and advances by the Chinese company, the University said the initiative was vital in promoting employment opportunities for the Tanzanian youths.

Rice production and trade

According to FAO, rice is the third most important food crop in Tanzania after maize and cassava.

While rice production averages at about 1.35 million tonnes, production has been on the verge of doubling not as a result of increased unit yields but expanded cultivation areas.

The government of Tanzania has prioritized rice production through its National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS) that aims at doubling rice production by 2018 in a bid to ensure food security and export the surplus.

Imports are influenced by both production, demand and local prices which are usually higher than international ones.

Since the country is not self-sufficient in rice, import influxes were high until 2005 when an import tariff of 75% was imposed to promote domestic production.

Paradoxically, whilst rice was being imported, there were still exports to neighbouring countries mainly Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

Demand for rice in Tanzania is projected to triple by 2020, and a substantial — and growing deficit is forecast, from 1.15 million tonnes in 2009 to 2.84 million tonnes in 2020- and the trend is expected to continue through 2025.