Legislators have blamed the government for introducing power tillers which can not cope with solid soils and other farming hurdles found in many parts of the country.
Debating the budget estimates of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food security and Cooperatives on Monday and Tuesday, the MPs said power tillers were meant for areas with malleable soils.
“These machines are not appropriate for the type of soils we have. They are fit for people who cultivate paddy. Send them there,” said Babati Rural MP Jitu Vrajiral Soni (CCM).
He said many people who had bought power tillers with loans would take a long time to repay them because the tillers were not value for money as they performed far below people's expectations.
“A friend of mine has taken one. But he has decided to take it to a far-off place to hire it out on paddy farms because he could not use it on his farms since the place needs a heavy-duty tractor," he told the House.
For his part, Serenget lawmaker Dr Steven Kebwe (CCM) said he was amazed at the huge number of power tillers being kept at Suma JKT, saying it was as if they were on show.
“But why are the tillers being sold at a very high price of up to 58m/- while the same sells at between 15m/- and 18m/- if one makes an order online. This is daylight robbery,” he said.
Nkasi North MP Ally Mohamed Kessy hit at the power tillers' ineffectiveness when operating on the farms. He said he was not sure about the importer of the power tillers, challenging the government to reveal the name.
Kessy said since the government popularised the use of power tillers nothing had been gained by the farmers. He said they were not fit even for carrying cargo, adding that, according to reports, some Ministry of Agriculture officials entered a contract with a manufacturer of the substandard power tillers.
Kessy went as far as asking Agriculture minister Prof Jumanne Maghembe to remove the photograph showing President Jakaya Kikwete boarding a power tiller because it was an embarrassment.
Tabora North lawmaker Shaffin Sumar (CCM) said he was not in favour of power tillers because they were underperforming.
“We don’t want power tillers. They don’t fit us. We need heavy-duty tractors,” he said.
In his budget speech on Monday when tabling his estimates, Prof Jumanne Maghembe said the use of quality farm equipment had increased in the country following the government’s initiative to encourage the use of power tillers.