The Government has announced plans to introduce a fertilizer subsidy scheme for all farmers in Tanzania as part of its efforts to tame rising prices.
The revelation was made by the Minister of Agriculture Hussein Bashe during a public meeting held at Ruaha village in Kilombero with Kilombero sugarcane growers that sought to address challenges faced by the sugarcane out growers and attended by various government officials, development stakeholders and officials from Kilombero Sugar Company Limited (KSCL).
During the event, the Agriculture Minister said the government will develop irrigation infrastructure and form a special commission to oversee irrigation in the country where council irrigation offices will oversee the sustainability of the infrastructure.
“The Irrigation commission will work with KSCL and develop a master plan for irrigation for both KSCL and growers and submit to the Ministry of Agriculture,” Bashe said.
Commenting on the challenges of accessing quality seeds raise by sugarcane growers which in turn affect their yield, Bashe following a brief discussion with the management of Kilombero Sugar Company Limited, pledged to establish a seed farm where growers can get quality seeds from the government.
The Kilombero Sugar Company reaffirming its commitment to the project during the meeting agreed to provide 400 hectares of land for the project.
“The quality of sugarcane is a process starting from the type of seeds planted, farming methods, harvesting methods and the way you transport the cane to the factory. I have heard your challenge of availability of seeds, we are starting a government nursery to produce seedlings.” Bashe
Bashe urged that despite the Kilombero growers being the most paid growers (per tonne) in Tanzania, there is potential to improve their rate of payment and called upon Kilombero Company Limited and growers to sit and review the cane supply agreement to scrutinize areas where growers revenue can be improved and create transparency in their revenue sharing model.
“In preparation of the factory expansion, I will form a team to be led by the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture to monitor the process of reviewing and improving the Cane Supply Agreement and the team will involve farmers in the process.” Bashe added.
The sugarcane growers during the meeting asked the minister for education and training on various areas to improve their yield per hectare adding that currently growers produce an average of 20 tonnes per hectare urging that there is potential to grow their yield to 70 tonnes per hectare.
In response to that, Kilombero Sugar Company Limited informed the minister that they have started connecting growers with various institutions for education and support in improving their farming practices and business skills.
In addition to that, the company has restructured its Grower Agriculture Department and increased the number of staff available to support growers from eight to forty eight.
Sugar Industry Development Trust Fund (SIDTF) and KSCL to work with National Sugar Institute (NSI) and any other potential partners to develop growers’ development programs.
Joint Input Procurement
Kilombero Sugar Company Limited informed the minister that processes and negotiations are underway to enter into a joint procurement agreement between the company and growers that will assist growers to access farming inputs on a timely manner.
The agreement will identify funding and storage structure in line with guidelines from authorities.