TANZANIA, Dodoma THE government is implementing various measures to boost production of sunflower in order to enable the country produce enough edible oil.
Speaking yesterday at the opening of the Sunflower Conference held at the Nanenane Central Regional Exhibition in Dodoma, Iramba District Commissioner Mr Seleman Mwenda said that Dodoma, Singida and Manyara have been selected as strategic regions to increase production of the crop.
“Tanzania is one of the countries that faces shortage of edible oil the situation that caused the country to import the commodity … the government is currently implementing measures to curb the shortage, which among others is to boost sunflower production,” the DC said.
He noted that one of the government’s initiatives is to ensure that farmers have access to quality sunflower seeds and other agricultural inputs, such as fertiliser and this can be made possible through subsidies.
Mr Mwenda further said that the government has also continued to ensure that it reinforces production of the crop in the regions by providing equipment such as motorcycles to extension officers to enable them reach out to the farmers and provide them with the necessary support.
He added that the government has also continued to recruit and increase the number of workers in the irrigation sub-sector to ensure that education and irrigation expertise is provided to farmers so that they can change from relying on rain-fed agriculture.
“75 per cent of the lives of Tanzanians living in Dodoma and Singida regions depend on sunflower cultivation and these regions are drought-prone, so the government is working to ensure that awareness and irrigation services reach them so that they can increase productivity,” he said.
Mr Mwenda further noted that despite the ongoing efforts by the government to increase sunflower production, there are a number of challenges facing farmers, including depending on rainfed agriculture.
He said climate change has affected production of various crops, including lack of consistency in production, leading to fluctuation of sunflower and cooking oil prices.
“The rainfed farming has caused sunflower prices to be very high and sometimes very cheap; for example, in 2022 there was a shortage of rain therefore sunflower was produced at a very low rate, the price of one sack was 90,000/-, this year farmers have increased production and the price has dropped to 35,000/- per sack,” he said.
The conference was attended by various stakeholders, including farmers, those on value chain addition, agricultural technologists, agricultural experts as well as producers and suppliers of fertiliser and quality seeds.
The meeting aimed at sharing experiences and educating each other, so as to increase efficiency and productivity and help the country achieve its objective of cutting importation of edible oil.