Njombe Regional Commissioner, Christopher Ole Sendeka said yesterday while officiating a smallholder tea farmers graduation ceremony that Unilever’s decision to invest in the southern highlands region, will attract other foreign investors as well.
“Unilever’s presence in our region will mean that tea farmers will have a reliable market to sell their commodities,” Ole Sendeka said in a speech read on his behalf by Assistant Regional Administrative Secretary responsible for Economy, Lameck Noah.
He added, “This will lure other foreign investors also to choose our region and thus slowly implementing a vision to make Tanzania a semi industrial economy,” the RC noted. He told 206 smallholder tea farmers who graduated that they should employ skills taught and thanks Njombe Out-growers Services Cooperatives (NOSC) for the service.
“We are proud of this partnership which is helping our farmers improve their tea production hence their living standards as quality tea earns them more money,” the RC said. He noted the one year training programme has mean that through application of best practices, quality tea leaves can now be ready in 12 months.
“It used to take longer before because farmers had no skills and knowledge to use in taking care of the crop,” Ole Sendeka noted.
He said as a major export earner for the country, tea has a very huge potential to transform smallholder farmers’ lives and promised NOSC of continued government support to ensure that they remain competitive in the global market.
“This kind of training is best because those who are now knowledgeable will be able to train others and therefore sustainability the knowledge and skills sharing and value chain scheme,” the Njombe RC stressed.
Speaking at the same function, NOSC General Manager, Filbert Kavia emphasised the importance of transferring skills and knowledge on tea farming best practices to address the problems of quality and quantity of agricultural production.
“Farmers best learn trough practice and that’s why we expect to add the number of beneficiaries of the programme this year,” Kavia said noting that it is expected that farmers’ productivity will improve as a result of the training.
One of the beneficiary farmers, Thiemo Msemwa paid tribute to NOSC for organising the training saying it had added value to their heads and commodities.
“We have learnt about what it takes to have sustainable agriculture, produce quality crops and manage resources wisely,” Msemwa noted.
The training held under Chai Project is sponsored by The Wood Foundation Africa, Gatsby Charitable Foundation and UKAID. NOSC targets to train 4,000 out-grower farmers who cultivate an area of about 3,800 hectors in the tea growing region.