SUNFLOWER stakeholders have recommended some of the measures to be taken by the government and other partners to increase the production and productivity of sunflower grains and minimize the importation of edible oil in the country.
Proposed measures are strengthening the contract farming business model, reducing the number of taxes for processors, supporting farmers and processors to improve the quality of their produce and products, reducing tariffs for the importation of basic seeds and improved certified seeds.
Sunflower stakeholders’ said at a meeting held in Morogoro recently that more efforts are needed to be taken by the government in terms of utilizing the idle land and review of the laws.
The one-day meeting themed: Repositioning the contribution of sunflower oil to the National edible oil demand was convened by the Agricultural Council of Tanzania (ACT) and facilitated by the Agricultural Markets Development Trust (AMDT) and other partners.
The members of the Policy Analysis Group (SAGCOT, ANSAF, Dalberg and Aspires Tanzania) were part of this stakeholders meeting.
The main discussion question the stakeholders earmarked to address was about ‘’Why a potential sunflower oil-exporting country like Tanzania is still importing edible oil?’’
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, there is a huge demand for edible oil in the country, estimated at 570,000MT/annum while the domestic supply is 205,000MT/annum.
Despite all the existing potentials for sunflower production, Tanzania is still a net importer of edible oil, importing about 365,000MT annually.
The Director of production at Agricultural Seed Agency (ASA), Dr Jackson Ringo, said the government has started to take measures to increase the production of quality seed.
He said irrigation schemes would be established for some seed farms, and the target is to increase production to 5, 000 tons in the year 2023 from below 1,000 tons which are produced by the agency annually.
A farmer identified as Amina Dafi, from the Singida region said Tanzania has enough piece of idle land which the government can give to farmers for sunflower cultivation.
She said the government should make sure that all the idle farms be used effectively by the farmers, particularly women for the production of crops, especially sunflower.
Another stakeholder identified as Ringo Iringo, said more efforts are needed to increase the production of improved high yielding sunflower seeds.
Iringo who is also the Chairman of Tanzania Sunflower Processors Association (TASUPA) said that the government should make sure that there are enough extension officers to support farmers in the field.
A processor identified as Zuhura Mpinga urged sunflower farmers to use the hybrid seed for more production of edible oil.
She urged seed companies to reduce the price of sunflower seeds to enable more farmers to use improved seed and get high yields.
Ms Tertula Swai, the Business Environment Specialist from AMDT, said the meeting aimed at coming up with practical solutions that would help the government to make appropriate decisions in the short term and long term to manage the edible oil situation in the country.
Earlier opening the meeting, the Executive Director of ACT Timothy Mbaga, said more efforts are needed to improve the sunflower industry.
He said at the moment, the local production of edible oil in the country stands at 40 per cent while 60 per cent is imported hence concerted efforts are needed to reverse the situation.