More than 27,000 sunflower farmers in three regions have entered into contract farming with seven oil processors that would see improvement in the quality of their produce and livelihood.
This was revealed recently by an official of Central Corridor Sunflower Processors Association (Cezosopa), Ringo Iringo at the National Market Development Forum (NMDF) in Morogoro.
The two-day forum was convened by Rural Livelihood Development Company (RLDC) in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
RLDC has linked sunflower farmers directly to their market by connecting them with oil processors who have agreed to partner in implementing contract farming.
This year seven oil firms are involved in the contract that connects around 28,000 farmers in Singida, Dodoma and Manyara regions.
He also said RLDC has collaborated with a number of processors, local government authorities and farmers in the production of sunflower Quality Declared Seeds (QDS) in the five districts of Kondoa, Singida Rural, Iramba, Mpwapwa and Kongwa.
Through this arrangement, for the past four years, QDS farmers have produced about 100 tonnes of QDS in Singida and Dodoma regions.
In 2010, knowing the challenge faced by the processors to access working capital, RLDC linked them with CRDB Bank whereby 43 processors obtained loans totaling 7.4bn/- to purchase sunflower seeds from farmers.
The move have stimulated sunflower oil seeds growing in other areas outside the central corridor and now production in the country has been on the increase annually, from 25,056 tonnes in 2000 to 418,317 tonnes in 2008, 466,831 tonnes in 2009, 348,877 tonnes in 2010 and 786,902 tonnes in 2011.
Opening the meeting, Industry and Trade minister Dr Abdallah Kigoda said the government is ready to cooperate with the market players in order to enable citizens to take part in various markets.
He urged them to ensure that there are sufficient and quality agricultural goods, market information, availability of packaging materials and the producers are linked with financial institutions to enable them to access loans.
Dr Kigoda requested market players to come up with recommendations that would help the farmers access markets more easily hence change their livelihood.
Speaking earlier, the RLDC programme Manager, Francis Massawe, said the purpose of the forum is to share results and experiences in the field with wider market audiences.
He added that the private sector plays a crucial role in agricultural development in Tanzania.
He said the Kilimo Kwanza Initiative of 2009 and Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (Sagcot) have contributed much in the development of the forum.
Massawe, said further improvement of NMDF depends on collaboration between stakeholders including the government.
The forum brought together various actors including development partners, private sector operators (processors, buyers, and sellers), farmers and government ministries and agencies.