THE increase in the number of experts in the agricultural sector is fundamental in raising farmers’ income and boosting the country’s economic growth.
In the course, the government has been providing subsidies on farm inputs, removing fees and charges as well as addressing the shortage of extension officers that impeded agriculture growth and contribution to economy.
It is true that the government alone cannot provide all the inputs in the sector and that’s why other interested parties’ support like that of students pursuing courses on agriculture and the private sectors is required.
For example, recently Serengeti Breweries Limited (SBL) initiated a programme, dubbed Kilimo-Viwanda scholarship scheme that seeks to provide a helping hand to students from underprivileged background, to enable them acquire college education by providing them with scholarships in agriculture-related disciplines in selected colleges across the country.
According to SBL’s Managing Director, Mark Ocitti, Kilimo-Viwanda scholarship programme’s overall aim is to beef up the existing pool of experts in the agricultural sector to support farmers increase their productivity.
The scholarship, Ocitti said, targets qualified, needy students who originate from the areas, where SBL supports its agri-business programme, so as once they acquire the relevant skills, they will be able to provide the much-needed agricultural extension services, thus imparting them to the farmers in order to increase their yields.
For starters, SBL’s agribusiness programme supports over 400 farmers of cereals, such as maize, sorghum, wheat and barley with the relevant farming supplements to enable them boost production of their local raw materials that the brewer uses for its beer production.
Ocitti says that so far, the beer-maker has provided scholarship to 70 students from four colleges of agriculture, including Kaole Wazazi College of Agriculture in Bagamoyo, Kilacha Agriculture and Livestock Training Centre in Moshi, Mt Maria Goretti College of Agriculture in Iringa and Igabiro Training Institute of Agriculture in Bukoba, Kagera Region-with the scholarship catering for their tuition fees for the entire academic period at the colleges.
SBL’s generous gesture has been received with gratitude by the colleges through their respective bosses who have noted that the scholarship demonstrates the company’s empathy towards bright and needy students, who would otherwise have been eluded by college education had they not been lucky enough to get the scholarship.
The principal of Kaole Wazazi College of Agriculture, Sinani Simba, while commending the SBL for the scholarship, said the support is not only a much-sought-after short-in-the-arm for qualified students who could not afford college fees but it also illustrates SBL’s commitment to the development of the agricultural in the sector in the country.
Simba’s Kilacha Agricultural and Livestock Training Centre counterpart, Benito Mwenda equally hails SBL noting that SBL’s gesture spoke to its keenness in enhancing the training of experts in agriculture, adding that by having an adequate pool of trained experts, it would be easy to transform the country’s agricultural sector from its current subsistence production orientation into market and industrial-orientated production system.
Similarly, the St. Maria Goretti College of Agriculture’s head, Isaya Kidava lauds SBL, noting that the sponsorship will increase the number of agricultural extension officers in the country.