Small-scale farmers face unique challenges, including climate change, water scarcity, poor infrastructure, diseases, pests and lack of agrochemical inputs among others.
At the heart of Tanzania’s largest sugar estate – Kilombero Sugar Company Limited (KSCL), lies a commitment to support growers, local community and the broader national economy through the company’s mega expansion projects poised for exponential growth.
Sugarcane growers in the Morogoro region are reaping big in the sector, as the producer of the renowned Bwana Sukari is on a trajectory of expanding tonnage and milling capacity to more than double the amount of sugar produced in Tanzania by 2025.
With eyes set on high quality seed productivity, the company prioritizes sustainable farming while leveraging on technology and innovation, to ensure consumer satisfaction and substantial revenue growth for both growers and the Tanzanian economy.
Driving economic and employment contributions
The labor-intensive nature of sugarcane production is particularly vital for elevating rural livelihoods, addressing Tanzania’s sugar deficit and widespread poverty.
KSCL serves as a significant employer in the Morogoro region, presently collaborating with 9,500 small-scale growers—an increase of 10% since 2016/17.
Projections indicate that these numbers will double to around 16,000 sugarcane growers by 2028/29, resulting in an income boost to approximately TSh165 billion, a substantial rise from the TSh75 billion earned in the 2022/2023 season.
A portion of the growers operate independently near KSCL mills, supplying up to 53% of the company’s sugarcane.
This injection of income into rural areas, where about 80% of the country’s population depends on agribusiness, is significant.
Through the establishment of sugarcane plantations, KSCL provides direct employment to individuals engaged in planting, harvesting, and processing activities.
KSCL’s direct economic impact has surged, driven notably by increased procurement spending on growers.
Purchases from Kilombero Valley growers have risen from 140,000 tonnes in 1998 to 666,012 tonnes in the 2021/2022 season, marking the highest amount of cane ever supplied.
Remarkably, KSCL paid these growers around TSh70 billion in the 2021/2022 season and TSh75 billion in the2022/23 production season.
Under KSCL’s ambitious expansion plans, sugarcane growers are expected to increase their contribution to 1.5 million tonnes, creating a ripple effect of direct employment across KSCL’s value chain.
Capacity building for growers
Bwana Sukari is crafted to meet high-quality standards and cultivated following rigorous agronomic practices.
KSCL actively promotes the capacity of growers by fostering collaborations with key stakeholders to provide educational and financial support.
The company employs extension support officers exclusively dedicated to enhancing the capabilities of growers.
Institutions like the Sugar Research Institute (SRI) work closely with both growers and the
Financial Sector Deepening Trust (FSDT) to enhance governance and financial literacy.
By adopting extension services, KSCL has notably enhanced the structure of the grower’s agriculture department.
This department is equipped with six grower service managers who oversee the sugarcane growing zones, each managing 21 extension officers collaborating with government counterparts.
Additionally, KSCL’s involvement with grower cooperatives underscores the growers’ reliance on the company for support in agricultural management, showcasing the pivotal role the company plays beyond being a mere economic contributor.
Extension support officers facilitate access to quality seed cane, agrochemical inputs, education on best practices, and assistance in obtaining finance.
This approach fosters a culture of sustainable and informed agriculture.
Fostering sustainable farming practices
In addition to economic contributions, KSCL recognizes its role in influencing sustainable practices within the community.
In that regard, the company has invested in renewable energy production for its industrial operations, reducing its carbon footprint while minimizing its reliance on fossil fuels.
To ensure high productivity, the company prioritises seed quality control through making use of the best practices in land preparation for high-quality soil tillage using latest technology machinery and farm implements.
This minimizes the time between sugarcane harvesting and processing. Proper management of sugarcane post-plantation preparation significantly contributes to higher yields and cane quality.
It also ensures minimum use of herbicides and pesticides, as they are applied when required, based on threshold levels from agronomic recommendations.
Furthermore, KSCL has invested substantially in modern and highly efficient irrigation system; which includes center pivots and sub-surface drip irrigation.
These strategies not only drive positive social and economic impacts but also minimizes environmental degradation.
Addressing Grower Challenges for Climate Change Resilience:
Climate change poses a formidable threat, with unpredictable weather patterns, increased pests and diseases, and water scarcity.
To bolster grower resilience, KSCL focuses on maintaining ongoing investments in the extension support program, ensuring that growers have the knowledge and resources to navigate climate impacts successfully.
KSCL’s ambitious expansion plans, including increased factory production and storage capacity, upgraded infrastructure, and a three-fold increase in cane supply, is well aligned with targeted efforts to address the impact of climate change.
Kilombero Sugar Company Limited’s impact on growers is not merely measured in tons of sugar produced but, in the lives transformed, communities uplifted, and sustainable practices fostered.
Kilombero Sugar Company Limited stands as a beacon of sustainable agriculture, driving economic growth, fostering innovation, and championing the resilience of its growers.
As KSCL strives for expansion, the company’s commitment to supporting growers remains at the forefront, ensuring that the benefits of its success reach far beyond the sugar fields—impacting rural communities, empowering growers, and contributing to Tanzania’s journey towards prosperity and sustainability.