Mlele sunflower farmers get subsidised seeds

KATAVI: SUNFLOWER farmers in Mlele District in Katavi region have all reasons to smile as they received at least ten tonnes of the subsidised sunflower seeds from the Agricultural Seeds Agency (ASA).

The improved seeds have been distributed to the growers in Mlele, a sunflower hub, as per the government’s directives. The move, among others, is to ensure that the sunflower growers in Mlele are getting the high-yielding variety at affordable prices to increase the production of edible oil.

The Mlele District Agriculture Officer, Mr Lucas Kifyasi said at the event to hand over the seeds that the 10 tonnes of the sunflower seeds was part of the amount earmarked for them.

“Apart from seeds, we have also received 1,700 tonnes of subsidised fertilisers which will be distributed in the whole region and sold as per indicative prices to help them heighten productivity,” Mr Kifyasi said over the weekend.

On average farmers are using between three and five kilogrammes of sunflower seeds to plant one acre.

The Mlele District Commissioner, Majid Mwanga, directed dealers to sell the subsidised seeds at the directed price since the government wants to increase crop productivity and ease edible oil shortage across the country.

“The government works overtime to overcome the shortage of edible oil by executing diverse initiatives,” Mr Mwanga said.

The initiative includes ensuring farmers are equipped with enough improved seeds and at affordable prices and modern farming techniques.

“I encourage the farmers to stop ‘business as usual’ and instead use researched and quality seeds to increase the production…quality seeds are more beneficial than traditional ones,” he said.

Additionally, the DC challenged extension officers to visit small farmers regularly to identify various challenges facing them and find solutions. The farmers in return asked the government to continue educating them on the use of quality seeds and modern farming techniques to increase the sunflower production in the district.

“Education on the use of quality seeds is important to us because it leads to positive results in production,” Ms Marieth Mnguluchuma a resident of Inyonga village in Mlele appealed.

Ms Gladness Johnson an owner of a sunflower and maize processing mill, also underscored the importance of using quality seeds. “Quality seeds that produce a sack of 100kg, when processed give 40 litres of pure sunflower oil unlike low-quality seeds, which can only extract 24 litres of the pure oil from the same kilogrammes,” she said.

Statistics show that Tanzania ranks 10th in the world for sunflower production, second in Africa, and first in East Africa.

The Global Agriculture Food Security Programme (GAFSP) indicates that sunflower is the most likely subsector to yield investable opportunities in the country.

However, production of the crop which contributes to at least 70 per cent of all edible oil produced in the country has remained low due to several factors, including challenges in the availability of improved seed varieties with high oil content.

The country is currently producing only 290,000 metric tonnes of edible oil, forcing it to annually import 420,000 metric tonnes and it is forecast that demand will increase to 700,000 metric tonnes by 2030.

As per the recommendations, sunflower grains are supposed to possess oil content between 38 and 44 per cent, but most of the grains produced in the country are at 34 per cent.

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