How CountrySTAT web fits into Tanzania’s agro set up


There is something unique about the official launch of the CountrySTAT Tanzania web based information technology on February 24th this year (2010).


 The web system established for agricultural led ministries was launched on the eve of a major conference organized by the Tanzania National Business Council, TNBC.


 The conference, on Kilimo kwanza (agriculture first), came under the name of Prospects for Agricultural Growth in a Changing World and was held at Dar es Salaam's sprawling Moevenpick Hotel on February 25th this year.


 What makes the CountrySTAT Tanzania website launch unique is the fact that its importance to the agricultural conference held on the following day was such that one would not be wrong if he or she compared it with the very conference which had set out to put Kilimo Kwanza in perspective.


 Indeed, whichever way one looks at it, it is indisputable that agricultural development in Tanzania will, from now onwards, heavily depend on the main players first being armed with correct statistical data, and here comes in the all-important saviour- CountrySTAT Tanzania website.


 It was varying statistical data that forced, in 1980s, one of the country's most learned sons-an entomologist, Professor John Baptist Machunda to resign as Minister of Agriculture.


 This was the era of the no-nonsense founding father of the Tanzanian nation, Dr Julius Nyerere and Tanzania was smarting from famine following prolonged drought.


 The Tanzanian government could not import the country's staple food, maize in order to offset its acute food shortage without first knowing, precisely, how many tones of maize the country required.


 President Nyerere ordered the hapless minister to provide him with data on how many tones of food was required.


 And as fate would have it, Professor Machunda handed his boss figures which were within hours disputed, hence leading to his forced resignation.


 The rest is of course history. However, what is interesting about the macabre incident is that it later transpired that the ministry of agriculture had more than one figure for the same produce!


 Now the good news is that the erstwhile statistical problem is presently being taken care of by the establishment of the CountrySTAT Tanzania website.


 The CountrySTAT Tanzania website now serves as a one stop-centre, and it is this particular characteristic which makes it difficult for any agricultural led ministry served by the website to come up with differing statistics on the same product.


 And now back to the conference. The TNBC Chairman, Mr Salum Shamte, set the proverbial ball rolling when he took the participants onKilimo Kwanza through the presentation of his paper titled: Prospects for Agricultural Growth in a Changing World.


 He explained that Kilimo Kwanza which was officially launched by President Jakaya Kikwete in Dodoma, central Tanzania, on August 3rd2009, was a national resolve to accelerate agricultural transformation in the country.


 Mr Shamte said the seriousness with which both TNBC and the government viewed Kilimo Kwanza was such that they considered it as a central pillar in achieving the country's Vision 2025.


 The linkage between the CountrySTAT Tanzania web based system on one hand and Kilimo Kwanza and the TNBC organized conference under review on the other once again emerged when Mr Shamte had this to say:


 "Agriculture in the context of Kilimo kwanza conforms to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) which includes crops, livestock, fisheries, forestry and bee-keeping".


 What is interesting about this linkage is that apart from being involved in agricultural development the world over, it is the same United Nations body that was involved in the design, in August 2008 in Rome,  Italy of the CountrySTAT Tanzania web information technology system.


 As already noted in the past, what makes Kilimo Kwanza's success almost inevitable is the fact that it was formulated under the auspices of the TNBC.


Thus unlike in the past government led and driven agricultural policies which came a cropper, this time around the government played a facilitating role.


In a nutshell, one can rightly say that Kilimo Kwanza is a private sector driven agricultural policy, a factor that ensures its successful implementation.


The Tanzania National  Business Council is a forum for public/private dialogue on strategic issues for Tanzania's socio-economic development.


The TNBC is made up of 40 members, 20 from the private sector and 20 from the public sector appointed by the President of United Republic of Tanzania who also happens to be the TNBC's Chairman.


Private sector representatives are recommended in the TNBC by the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF), the focal organization for private sector associations in the country.


The TNBC Executive Council has a total of 12 members which are equally split between private and public sectors.


The work of the Executive Committee is to, among others, oversee functions of the Council.


The Executive Committee is chaired by the Chief Secretary who is the Head of the Civil Service (sitting in the office of the President of the United Republic of Tanzania) and co-chaired by the chairperson of the TPSF.


However, the day to day functions of the TNBC is undertaken by a Secretariat headed by an Executive Secretary.


The TNBC dialogue is conducted through council meetings; Local and International Investors' Roundtables (LIRT and IIRT); Regional and District Business Council; Working Groups-professionals and practitioners from public and private sectors.