Agriculture sector needs a paradigm shift for Kilimo Kwanza to succeed Friday, 07 August 2009 08:21 | Written by Administrator | ECONOMIC ROAD MAP The Kilimo Kwanza document states in paragraph in 44 that to realize the countrys green revolution there has to a paradigm shift. The paradigm shift aims at solving a serious dichotomy that is facing the agriculture sector of Tanzania. The serious dichotomy has not been stated directly. However, when one reads the whole paragraph it is possible to see that the serious dichotomy that is facing the agriculture sector is that while the Tanzania peasantry is supposed to be the major beneficiary of agriculture development policies, the sector cannot be developed without destroying the peasantry. Of course destroying the peasantry does not mean going out to physically eliminate the peasants. The approach that is advocated for eradicating the peasantry is by bringing small scale farmers into the main stream of a modern and commercial agriculture economy. Since the Kilimo Kwanza document is a summary of major issues and recommendations, we are not made to understand how in actual practice the Tanzania peasantry will be eradicated. The agenda of eradicating the peasantry is indeed a tall one. I am not sure if the Tanzania peasants were told that there was an agenda of eradicating them they would take it lightly. May be it was with the view to appeasing the peasants that the president, while launching the Tanzania green revolution is quoted to have said that Kilimo Kwanza does not imply that the sectors policies will be overhauled. Whether it pleases the peasantry or not it is an undeniable fact that the development of the agriculture sector ipso facto means the absence of peasant agriculture. Here let us take note of the fact that Tanzania small-scale farmers should not be called peasants. We are informed that the word peasant was used by the English to describe in a derogatory manner Irishmen who were working as labourers on land owned by the English. Thus we are advised to call our so-called peasants small scale or smallholder farmers because they own the land that they work on. They are not labourers for any landlord. At the same time, however and unfortunately, they work on the land as if the land is not theirs. Their farming activities are not commercial oriented. I believe this is the aspect of our smallholder farmers that gives them the derogatory name of peasants. Essentially, when we look at the qualifications of our smallholder farmers we find that they possess all the qualifications of a typical working Tanzanian. In the first place they are used to hard work. Tanzania smallholder farmers are free farmers in the sense that they are not tenants or agriculture workers. Thus the products of their labour accrue to them exclusively. Since ownership of the output reverts to the producers there is tremendous potential for hard work. What is required is to devise an appropriate mechanism that will enable this potential to be tapped. The untapped potential is power for progress. Second, smallholder farmers are enterprising self-employed workers. They work hard because they are self-employed which means there is no one who will carry out their tasks if they dont. They are also entrepreneurs because they have to make decisions on how to employ capital and labour in away that will achieve the desired results. They also make their own decisions on what to grow, what inputs to use and when and how to market their produce. In the end as entrepreneurs they live with the results of their decisions whether good or bad. Third, smallholder farmers like all other hard workers of the country, are great savers. Our smallholder farmers work for months or even years for nothing until they get the fruits of their labour. In the case of permanent crops like coffee, tea, cashew nuts etc., smallholder farmers do wait for years before they can enjoy the fruits of their labour. Planting a permanent crop is equivalent to saving money for investment in machinery for increased production. Apart from having people who are hard working and entrepreneurial, the third asset that any nation needs for fast economic growth is a high savings rate. With all these good qualities that the Tanzania smallholder farmers have do we still want to eradicate them? Yes they have to be eradicated because to date their farming operations are characterized by very low productivity and hence low output. The good qualities of our smallholder farmers that I have outlined above represent a potential that needs to be tapped. The single most outstanding challenge to the policy markers is how to tap the three qualities of hard work, entrepreneurial spirit and the spirit of saving that our smallholder farmers have. In order to eradicate the small scale farmer who has the mentality of a peasant the first thing that needs to be done is to change hi mindset .Of course changing the mindset of the small-scale farmer requires that we first make very clear as to what the current economic system is. We have to educate our small-scale farmers on what a capitalist system is and what it entails. We often tend to forget the fact that our small-scale farmers have over many years been well educated and trained in the socialist economic system. We take for granted that since we the politicians and educated elite know what the capitalist economic system is the small-scale farmers of Tanzania also know what it is. Those of my age will remember what it took to introduce and make Tanzanians accept the socialist economic system. The socialist economic system was taught at all levels of schooling from kindergarten to university level. What makes us think that the capitalist economic system does not need to be taught to our young people? Actually when the Kilimo Kwanza document states that the small scale farmer should be made to produce commercially it means that the mindset of the small scale farmer should be changed from that of a socialist to that of a capitalist. I say so because our socialist economic system in many ways did discourage anything that had to do with a hard drive towards profit making. This has to change with the adoption of a capitalist economic system. A paradigm shift has to start with a change in the mindset of the small-scale farmers. There are a number of things that can be done to bring about the paradigm shift which of necessity must start with a change in the mindset of our small-scale farmers. These include land ownership and what it means, farming as a profession as well as farming as a gainful activity. So the first perquisite for tapping the potentials of our small-scale farmers that I have mentioned above and therefore eradicate the peasant mentality is to change the mindset of our small-scale farmers. And this is the challenge that the government has to deal with.