TANZANIA – Local consumers will have the last say on whether the government should endorse or repel genetically engineered food from becoming part of the country’s food chain.

In an interview recently, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Permanent Secretary, Dr Florence Turuka said the issue of genetically engineered organism, which are heralded by some as panacea for world hunger and a solution to climate change, needs decision by consensus.

“The government will sensitise the public on GMOs and wait until all citizens accept the use of such foods,” Dr Turuka said in the sidelines of the just ended two-day Agribusiness Congress of East Africa.

He said the government is still conducting trials to ensure that GMOs are safe before allowing them to become part of the country’s food chain.

However, the PS pointed out that the government has taken various measures to enhance domestic, regional as well as international trade in commodities including agriculture produce.

Dr Turuka urged local farmers to take advantage of the market opportunities available under bilateral and multilateral trade agreements in East African Community and European Union.

“As a government, we recognized the potential that agriculture holds for economic growth and poverty reduction. Small scale farmers are the largest investors in agriculture, thus we have to embrace small scale farmers as they are significant players in agribusiness,” he underlined.

 Dr Turuka stressed that Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) has been instrumental in promoting and facilitating investments in agribusinesses in the country, with special incentive schemes given to various categories of investors depending on the level of investment.

“Agribusiness entails investment which requires support from a wide range of policies beyond agricultural policies. Apart from political commitment at highest level, the government has been working to ensure that policies to support agribusinesses are coherent and coordinated,” he said.

Other measures taken by the government to boost the agriculture sector include establishment of Tanzania Agriculture Development Bank, an agro-window at TIB Investment Bank and several commercial banks such as NMB and CRDB.

February 12, 2016; http://www.ippmedia.com/frontend/index.php?l=88853