The Small Industries Development Organisation (SIDO) has introduced sunflower growing in Handeni, Muheza and Kilindi districts, which are ideal for the crop.
Speaking in an interview with The Guardian yesterday, SIDO regional manager Selemani Mtani said they would boost farmers as its price was high at the moment due to high demand not only in Tanzania but also outside the country.
He said SIDO experts would go to rural areas to mobilise farmers and train them on how to grow sunflower in a modern way so that they could get good output.
He noted that SIDO would also provide support and expert advice for establishing small oil processing industries in rural areas, which would be owned by the farmers themselves through their cooperatives.
Mtani explained that the growth of sunflower would attract small oil processing industries like in the regions of Manyara and Singida and create more jobs for residents.
He further said although the climate of the region especially in the three districts was favourable for sunflower growth, Tanga residents did not consider it as an important crop that could economically improve their lives.
"We have started mobilising people and even leaders at all levels so that they put sunflower crop on their agenda and consider it as one of the region's cash crops to be given priority. This crop is not new in the region, it has been grown by farmers but in a small-scale just for domestic use. We now want it to be a commercial crop. Farmers will start growing it in large farms and sell it through their cooperatives. I am quite sure they are going to benefit out of it,” he said.
He further said production of sunflower cooking oil, which was cholesterol free, would reduce the importation of cooking oil, thus earning the nation foreign currency and at the same time creating jobs through small oil industries which most of them were to be established in rural areas.
"We can't continue importing cooking oil. Sunflower oil is cholesterol free and the growth of this crop in large-scale will attract local oil processing industries and will benefit our people in terms of employment and the government in terms of revenue collection," he said.
He urged small business communities and farmers to utilise SIDO and get business advice and information to ensure their businesses grew especially in rural areas where many people lacked entrepreneurial skills.