Farmers have asked Suma JKT Company to involve their associations in its countrywide mechanisation centres strategy aimed at assisting the tillers to hire tractors at affordable prices.
Speaking in an interview with The Guardian over the phone from Arusha yesterday, Tanganyika Farmers’ Association managing director Jerome Maimu, said if the farmers would be involved in the process, it will be easy for the programme to succeed.
He said the association has power to motivate many farmers to help implement the strategy.
Maimu also said that farmers in rural areas have always been struggling to get better tilling tools for their work such as tractors, adding that Suma JKT has to understand the importance of involving them as stakeholders in the context of assuring that tractors are supplied at the planned mechanisation centres.
Bonaventure Madaha, a cotton farmer from Kasamwa village in Geita Region said that small scale farmers are eagerly waiting to hire the tractors from the mechanisation centres due to be established by Suma JKT, adding that nothing has been done after the firm had announced its intention.
“We have waited for a long time after we heard that SUMA JKT will open up centres that will assure the farmers of rented tractors at affordable prices…but nothing has been done so far and there is no any indication that there is such a programme. We continue to suffer as we use the hand hoe as our major means of our production,” he said.
George Katyega, also a farmer from Kondoa District in Dodoma Region complained on the delays by Suma JKT to kickstart the project saying the company was mandated to establish mechanisation centres throughout the country, but up to now has not done anything.
The management of Suma JKT Kilimo Kwanza Tractor project declared EARLY THIS YEAR that they will speed up establishment of mechanisation centres where farmers will be able to hire agricultural equipment at affordable prices.
The Project Manager Col Felix Samillan said that their management is still waiting for funds from the government to enable them to commence the programme throughout the country so that farmers, especially smallholder ones, can hire equipment at affordable charges.
“We are waiting for funds from the government, we believe that this project will take place very soon because our intention is to speedily move the farmers from the hoe to modern farming techniques,” Col Samillan noted.
He added: “We know that farmers are still in hardship using the hand hoe in the world of science and technology, but we promise them that very soon the centres will be opened because we don’t want to see them continue to use old technologies in agriculture.”
The project manager said that after getting the funds, the company would set up centres in all the regions, adding that small holders-farmers would be free to access agricultural equipment.
He said the farmers would be required to form groups to make it easier for them to hire the tractors.
“At the end of the day farmers who are currently using the hoes will be able to purchase their own tractors…this is because by hiring the tractors they will increase productivity and generate more incomes to eventually own tractors,” the project manager said.
He also pointed out that despite the efforts by the project management to reduce prices of the tractors down to 16million/- from around 25m/-, most of the small farmers could not afford the price, forcing them to continue using hand hoes.
It is also said that in order to overcome the challenges of Kilimo Kwanza initiative, the government through Suma JKT has reduced the prices of tractors by 25 per cent to 16m/- which however will enable many more smallholder farmers to purchase them.
“After reducing the price, the response has been positive and the number of buyers has gone up. The bulk importer of Indian tractors was charging between 25m/- and 45m/- per farm-track tractor. But now the price stands at 16m/- and we have sold many units,” he said.
According to Samillan, this is the first phase of the project which started 2010 to supplement the government’s efforts to boost the agricultural sector by selling tractors at reduced price targeting small farmers.