Sunflower boost as special growth project mooted

ABOUT 150,000 smallholder farmers will benefit from a project to be carried out by the Agricultural Markets Development Trust (AMDT) that will see the productivity level of sunflower crop increasing in the country.

AMDT Programme Manager, Mr Martin Mgallah, told the ‘Daily News’ in Dar es Salaam in an exclusive interview recently that initially, AMDT had selected three crops, which are sunflower, maize and pulses benefitting about 500,000 smallholder farmers.

The AMDT has been established by the governments of Denmark, Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland. It was established as a long term facility with a life span of at least 10 years, the overall objective being to increase incomes and employment opportunities for poor women and men; and youth in Tanzania.

According to Mr Mgallah, of the three crops, the strategy for sunflower is ready to start its implementation in the 2017 season – to be implemented across 12 regions and targeting about 150,000 smallholder farmers by 2021.

Mr Mgallah named the regions as Mbeya, Songwe, Katavi, Rukwa, Iringa, Njombe, Dodoma, Singida, Shinyanga, Manyara, Lindi and Mtwara.

“The programme will facilitate introduction, availability and access to better seeds as well as facilitating the commercial relationships between smallholder farmer’s processors and other service providers such as financial institutions, insurance companies, information and extension services.

It will also help to link farmers with reliable markets for their crops,” he said. He also said the programme supported the national strategy of imports’ substitution by promoting local production of sunflower – increasing local production of sunflower oil and significantly save foreign currency from importing edible oil.

“Edible oil has become the second after petroleum on the list of importations as per Tanzania Revenue Authority statistics. The country imports palm oil tremendously,” he observed.

Mr Mgallah pointed out the major target beneficiaries for the programme are poor, women, men and youth who are involved in agriculture production and in other agricultural on-farm and off-farm economic activities.

“The intervention will seek to enhance the capacities of smallholder farmers and small-scale processors in bargaining for better terms in the sunflower value chain,” he said.

Mr Mgallah noted that the programme will stimulate the private sector to invest in supplying improved seed varieties and encourage the public sector through responsible research institutes to invest in breeding new varieties locally in the longer term.

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