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World Libraries | Volume 18 | Issue 2 | Chatama

Exploitation of Current Developments in ICT to Enhance Implementation of “Kilimo Kwanza” in Tanzania — Yuda Julius Chatama

Abstract

This paper describes how current developments in information and communication technologies (ICTs) can be exploited to enhance a smooth implementation of Kilimo Kwanza (Agriculture First) in Tanzania. It defines Kilimo Kwanza and provides a brief overview of the historical development of ICT in Tanzania. The use of ICT can enhance implementation of Kilimo Kwanza through improved quality of research and training to stakeholders, reduced administrative costs and enhanced effectiveness and efficiency in information access, retrieval, processing, storing and dissemination. The paper highlights constraints limiting effective use of ICT in Tanzania and makes recommendations if the benefits of ICT in implementation of Kilimo Kwanza are to be realized.

The concept of ICT

What is ICT? ICT permeates the business environment: it underpins the success of modern corporations and it provides governments with an efficient infrastructure. At the same time, ICT adds value to the processes of learning, and in the organization and management of learning institutions (UNESCO, 2002).

To define information and communication technology (ICT) two other terms, namely informatics (computing science) and informatics technology, need to be defined. UNESCO defines informatics as the science dealing with the design, realization, evaluation, use, and maintenance of information processing systems, including hardware, software, organizational and human aspects, and the industrial, commercial, governmental and political implications of these. Informatics technology is the technological applications (artifacts) of informatics in society. Therefore, ICT is defined as the combination of informatics technology with other related technologies, specifically communication technology (UNESCO, 2002).

There are various definitions of ICT proposed by different scholars and authorities. Information and communication technology refers to technologies designed to access, process and transmit information (Weigel and Waldburger, 2004). The United Nations Development Programme (2001) defined ICT as the building block of the networked world. Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) views ICT as the main instrument for information and knowledge transfer both globally and within countries.

For the purpose of this work, ICT is taken to mean various technologies used to collect, store, order, edit, process and pass on information necessary in implementation of Kilimo Kwanza (Agriculture First). This information may occur in different forms such as data, sound and vision. Computers, the Internet, CD–ROM, scanners, mobile phones, and video conferencing may all be considered to be forms of ICT. In the past, the information aspects of these technologies were emphasized (Information Technology–IT). In recent years, on the other hand, the communication aspects became very important; that is why the new ICT concept is used.

ICT development in Tanzania

ICT development in Tanzania can be traced back to 1965 when the first computer (an ICT 1500) was installed at the Ministry of Finance; by 1974 there were seven computers in the country (Mgaya, 1994). During that period installation was totally dependent on foreign experts. In some cases these experts were not adequately qualified, and applications tended not to be accurately documented and ran only when foreign experts were around.

The experts left the country mainly due to a political atmosphere which was created by both the Arusha Declaration and nationalization policies. When the application in most cases stopped functioning the government incurred a heavy financial loss and was highly criticized by members of Parliament and the general public. As a result in 1974 the government banned importation of computers and their accessories into Tanzania. The ban was lifted in early 1980s (Mgaya, 1994).

Official statistics indicate positive trends in the country’s ICT sector. By September 2009, there were more than 16,051,647 mobile phones subscribers and 181,671 fixed lines in the country. This is an improvement compared to 3,118,157 subscribers (both mobile and fixed) in the year 2005. The number of telecommunication service operators (Internet Service Provider/Data Operators) increased from 11 in 2000 to 62 operators in 2009 (Tanzania Communications Regulatory Agency, 2009).

There are four characteristics which attempt to define ICTs: these are interactivity, permanent availability, global reach, and reduced costs for many. That is to say, ICTs are effective two–way communication technologies; they are available 24 hours a day; they remove geographical distances; and they shrink the relative costs of communication to a fraction of previous value (Gerster and Zimmermann, 2003). What ICT primarily has done so far is to give us a means of effective storing/sorting of information and also new fast ways of communication as well as creating new types of interactive learning media.

The concept of Kilimo Kwanza

Kilimo Kwanza (Agriculture First) was the theme of a two day meeting convened on 2 and 3 June 2009 at Kunduchi Beach Hotel, Dar es Salaam by Tanzania National Business Council (TNBC), under its Chairman, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the policies and strategies for the transformation of Tanzania’s agriculture and its implementation (Tanzania. Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, 2009).

From presentations made by experts at the meeting the following points became evident:

  • Eighty percent of Tanzanians depend on agriculture for their livelihood
  • The greatest challenge facing Tanzania is to combat poverty and that this will be possible mainly through enhanced agricultural productivity.
  • Tanzania has agricultural land, livestock and marine resources of which a large proportion is currently underutilized.
  • Tanzania has the second largest volume of inland fresh water resources in Africa that can be utilized for irrigation.
  • So far considerable efforts have been made towards the transformation of agriculture without much success.

Consequently the meeting made the following resolutions:

  • Embark on Kilimo Kwanza as Tanzania’s Green Revolution to transform its agriculture into a modern and commercial sector.
  • Integrate Kilimo Kwanza into the government machinery to ensure its successful implementation.
  • Mobilize increased resources towards the realization of Kilimo Kwanza.
  • Mobilize the private sector to substantially increase its investment and shoulder its rightful role in the implementation of Kilimo Kwanza.

The last component of the resolution was to declare that the implementation of Kilimo Kwanza will comprise ten actionable pillars:

  1. Political will to push our agricultural transformation;
  2. Enhanced financing for agriculture;
  3. Institutional reorganization and management of agriculture;
  4. Paradigm shift to strategic agricultural production;
  5. Land availability for agriculture;
  6. Incentives to stimulate investments in agriculture;
  7. Industrialization for agricultural transformation;
  8. Science, technology and human resources to support agricultural transformation;
  9. Infrastructure development to support agricultural transformation;
  10. Mobilization of Tanzanians to support and participate in the implementation of Kilimo Kwanza.

According to the implementation framework (Tanzania. Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, 2009) it is the responsibility of the President to announce the Kilimo Kwanza resolution, start the implementation program of Kilimo Kwanza, instill political will at all levels of leadership and commitment by Tanzanians to the Kilimo Kwanza Resolution, and to establish an autonomous National Irrigation Agency.

The Ministry of Agriculture is required to transform peasants and small farmers to commercial farmers through emphasis on productivity and tradability, and to promote to medium and large scale farmers the full realization of the vision of Kilimo Kwanza. The Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Tanzania will work out ways of financing Kilimo Kwanza through increasing government budgetary allocation, establishing the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank, or establishing a special fund.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Land and Housing is responsible for amending the Village Land Act No. 5 of 1999 to facilitate equitable access to village land for Kilimo Kwanza investments plus fast–tracking a land delivery system. Incentives for Kilimo Kwanza such as removing market barriers to agricultural commodities, price stabilization and supply of agricultural machinery and implements are the responsibilities of the Ministry of Industries, Trade and Marketing. Coordination as well as influencing the budgets of all other ministries to support Kilimo Kwanza is the responsibility of the Prime Minister’s office.

ICT and implementation of Kilimo Kwanza

As pointed out earlier, ICT can enhance implementation of Kilimo Kwanza due to its impact on three major areas; first, it improves quality of research and training needed by stakeholders; second, it cuts down administrative costs inherent in the implementation process; and finally it facilitates effectiveness and efficiency in information access, retrieval, processing, storing and dissemination. These benefits are expanded as shown below.

ICT improves training and research for Kilimo Kwanza implementation

According to implementation framework, apart from instilling political will to support Kilimo Kwanza, a lot of training must be conducted for the general public to understand their responsibility as well as the role of key authorities in the implementation process. In the same vein a good deal of research needs to be done by authorities in order to come up with tangible solutions to challenges inherent in implementation. ICT can be used in a number of ways in facilitating such research and trainings. The diagram below presents a typical Kilimo Kwanza training cycle so as to highlight areas of ICT use.

 

Figure 1: Kilimo Kwanza Training Cycle
Figure 1: Kilimo Kwanza Training Cycle.

 

During the identification of training needs, such devices as mobile phones, the Internet and teleconferences can help authorities to access and retrieve information on what is being done by developed counties in fostering agricultural development. This is important for such authorities to satisfy themselves on why training is required, who needs it and what are its expected outcomes and impact.

When designing and delivering training solutions, ICT helps in developing training structure and content and ensures that the delivery of the training is effective and provides opportunities for the learners to learn. This will involve choosing the most appropriate format for meeting training needs, and taking advantage of different training methods. For example, e–learning can be used. Satellite technology can be used by authorities to know if training solutions taught are actually being applied in the implementation of Kilimo Kwanza. ICTs help in evaluation of training solutions; for example, with such technologies as wireless mobile handsets and the Internet the collection of information can easily be effected via e–mail and phone calls. Also analysis and presentation of information can easily be done using computers to document the improvement in performance resulting from the training.

On the other hand, ICTs improve research in a number of ways. As far as implementation of Kilimo Kwanza is concerned, ICT allows locating and accessing large amounts of relevant information in the field; easier and more rapid communication with colleagues around the globe which leads to the development of contacts among scholars; rapid dissemination of research results and publications; offers the possibility of sending research results for peer–review to a large number of contacts, hence saving a considerable amount of time; and, access to remote computer resources when in need of large computer facilities, thereby increasing research capacity (Langlois, 1997).

ICT cuts down Kilimo Kwanza implementation costs

According to the Kilimo Kwanza implementation framework, there is a cost implication to interventions by each authority. As pointed out earlier, the Ministry of Agriculture is required to transform peasants and small farmers to commercial farmers through emphasis on productivity and tradability and to promote medium and large scale farmers to the full realization of the vision of Kilimo Kwanza.

Since there is a research and training component in what the Ministry should do, the use of ICT results in reduced costs through such facilities as e–mails (attachments), telephones, teleconferences, and e–learning modules. These technologies save time, cut down travel costs and are essential for countries like Tanzania where funds are not available to acquire books or to subscribe to periodicals for the general public to access.

Elly (2002) noted that in agricultural research the use of CD–ROMs, Internet facilities, digital geographic information systems (GIS), electronic journals and other forms of ICT has profound advantages. These include an increased level of communications among researchers and other practitioners, reduced cost associated with information handling, reduced possibility of duplicating research through repeated experiments and increased availability of literature on agriculture and in turn improved agricultural output.

ICT facilitates Kilimo Kwanza information dissemination

Key people in agricultural industry such as extentionists, research managers, policy makers, trainers, agricultural consultants and farmers need information so as to play their role in agricultural development. Extentionists need information to keep abreast of agricultural and technological developments and to provide extension materials to farmers. Agricultural extension services aim at increasing general knowledge of small holder farmers about new agricultural technologies in order to facilitate its adoption (Mashindano, 1998). Extension workers provide information to farmers on fertilizer application, plant materials, credit and loans, as well as better farming methods.

To extension managers, information is used to monitor and evaluate actions necessary for making decisions on programs related to agriculture development. Like research managers, policy makers need information in order to assist the government to make sound judgment and correct decisions on long–term agricultural development plans. Trainers and agricultural consultants need information so as to update their subject knowledge and give sound advice and useful skills to their clients (UNESCO, 2001).

Furthermore, farmers need information on how to control vermin, epidemic pests and diseases as well as the price of their products in the nearby market in order to challenge middlemen to pay fair prices and hence escape their exploitative hold (Mansell and Wehn, 1998). In all the above cases ICT provides a means of effective storing and sorting information and also new fast ways of communication as well as creating new types of interactive learning media which are all critical for implementation of Kilimo Kwanza.

Through the use of modern technologies small scale farmers are economically empowered by enhancing their access to price information in trade flows. Menda (2004) gives an example of the crop marketing bureau (CROMABU) project in Mwanza, Tanzania, which was designed to gather and disseminate relevant information regarding crop prices in local and international markets. The internet service run by the project has helped small scale farmers get best market value for their products. He noted that before 2002 middlemen in Magu were conspiring to lower crop prices and reap high profits. The price of good cotton for instance was ranging from Tanzanian shillings 200 (US$0.2) to TZS 250 (US$0.25) per kilogram. Before the project it could be lowered to as much as TZS 150 (US$0.15) to TZS 180 (US$0.18) per kilogram.

Constraints limiting effective use of ICT in Tanzania

Elly (2002) argues that the causes for poor access to and use of ICT in research institutions in Tanzania were poor infrastructure, lack of ICT policy, poor ICT skills of potential users and generally poor management of ICT in some institutions. He further noted that the root cause of these problems emanated from the poor economy that result from little funds being allocated to the acquisition and maintenance of ICTs. Poor access and use were also associated with unaffordable management conditions especially in those institutions with required ICTs. These include bad physical locations of the equipment, poor time allocation for the use of the ICT facilities, and bureaucratic bottlenecks in using the facilities.

In her case study of the school inspectorate department of the Tanzania Ministry of Education and Culture, Baynit (2002) indicated that problems hindering the application of ICT includes illiteracy and shortage of ICT facilities. Other problems indicated involved a lack of funds leading to inadequate facilities, lack of qualified /skilled staff, power cuts and lack of participation in budget allocation for the ICT aspects in the ministry. Similarly, Ngomuo (2001) pointed out several problems including lack of skill, inadequate facilities, low budget for acquisition and maintenance of IT resources, power shortage, lack of computer networking and appropriate software in the backup system.

Conclusion

The primary objective of the Kilimo Kwanza resolution was to transform Tanzania’s agriculture industry into a modern and commercial sector. The implementation of this resolution requires massive research on crop productivity and related management sciences as well as training farmers all aspects inherent in agricultural transformation. For a robust campaign like this to be successful, there should be a very effective and efficient communication between stakeholders.

The paper has also shown the importance of such information as market access, production technologies, access to micro–finance, e–government, e–commerce, e–marketing facilities on successful implementation Kilimo Kwanza. It has shown how ICT is a key factor for reaching the greatest possible target population even in remote areas at the lowest possible price, through offering information services via data networks, and establishing training on informational highways which cuts down costs.

Since ICT provides much needed government support to rural development by reducing the cost of extension services delivery and also promoting improved production, the government should seriously exploit current developments in ICT to enhance implementation of Kilimo Kwanza.

Recommendations

Generally the available literature shows that the problems which hinder effective utilization of ICT are varied but are mainly related to limited ICT skills, knowledge and competence among staff, and inadequate ICT facilities. For the government to effectively make use of ICT in the implementation of Kilimo Kwanza it should be ready to do the following:

  1. Formulate appropriate ICT policies.
  2. Invest in acquisition and development of ICT facilities.
  3. Train the general public through trainers (e.g., teachers) on how to use ICT.
  4. Provide telephone and computer networks in rural areas.
  5. Using ICT, develop and disseminate relevant information on Kilimo Kwanza.

Bibliography

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About the author

Yuda Julius Chatama is Assistant Librarian at the Dar es Salaam Business School at Mzumbe University.
E–mail: chatyu77 [at] yahoo [dot] co [dot] uk.



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