Economic hardship and poor event management were said to be among the reasons behind low turnout at this year’s Nane Nane agricultural fair; a farmers event that was tragically overshadowed by retail and entertainment activities.
In an interview with The Citizen on Sunday, communications officer for the Agricultural Council of Tanzania (ACT) Mr. Cleophas Rwechungura said that relative to last year, turnout at this year’s Nane Nane festivities was incredibly low.
Due to poor organisation, many of those that tried to get to the fair ended up in entertainment and retail pavilions, which according to him, defeats the purpose of having a National Farmers’ Day.
“It’s an unfortunate situation, ” he said. “(You) board a bus from Dodoma town centre to Nzuguni which is almost 15km away, get through the gate and then you see everyone’s worried about other things.”
“The fair is overshadowed by entertainment, retail, and mobile network pavilions that offer discounts and promotions. Citizens don’t get the chance to see what they came for,” laments M. Rwechungura.
The ACT spokesperson downplayed allegations that the event wasn’t successful because it was held in Dodoma instead of Dar es Salam.
He cited Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda’s comment that Dar hosts industry and trade events, and Nane Nane goes upcountry because it’s where the farmers are.
Despite the initial difficulty, ACT was able to reach out to many stakeholders during last week’s event, providing education to visitors and coordinating efforts by farmers in Kisarawe, Sumbawanga, Babati and Kilombero, according to Mr. Rwechungura.
Moreover, ACT was able to send some of its Tanzania Agricultural Partnership (TAP) coordinators, suppliers, and district warehouse managers to the fair, to engage with farmers and other stakeholders.
Mr. Rwechungura was speaking in response to increasing concern that Tanzanians are losing interest in trade fairs. Attendance at both Saba Saba and Nane Nane was lower this year, and locals seemed not too keen to get involved.
Dar es Salaam residents, for instance, told The Citizen on Sunday that the fairs had become too expensive.
They argued that increases in entrance and parking fees had discouraged many from taking part at the 36th Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair, held on July 7 this year.
Some respondents told this reporter that Nane Nane had failed in its goal of raising the profile of local Agriculture. “This fair happens every year, yet little has changed for peasants,” said Dar resident Abel Karlo.
“They feed the nation, but it seems that their contribution has been forgotten,” he said.