Tractors bought by the Tanzanian government on bond issued by the government of India, are parked at a yard belonging to Suma JKT, the army’s economic wing, last year. The tractors have all been bought by farmers in a move to support ‘Kilimo Kwanza’.(File photo)
The government is in the process to ordering 3,000 more tractors to support the country’s (Kilimo Kwanza initiative after the sale of 1846 units acquired through a bond from India in the first phase.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Guardian on Monday in Dar es Salaam, Suma JKT Marketing Officer Lt Tumaini Mwang’onda said that all the 1846 tractors that were brought by the government have sold after the army wing reduced the unit sale price making the tractors affordable to more farmers.
“The farmers’ response has been positive after reducing the price. The bulk importer of Indian tractors was charging between 25m/- and 45m/- per farm-track tractor. But the price was lowered to 16m/- and as a result the farmers rushed for the remaining units,” he said.
Lt Mwang’onda also said that up to the moment the army’s economic wing has not established mechanisation centres to help the farmers to get the knowhow and services for their tractors.
He said the wing is waiting for support and advice from the government so as to ensure that the centres to be opened become exclusively units for assisting the farmers.
“We are waiting for funds from the government. Work is on progress and the centres will be opened very soon to assists the framers in case of mechanical breakdowns because farmers need nearest technical support to ensure their tractors work properly,” he said.
He insisted: “The government’s intention is to speedily move the farmers out of the hand hoe to modern farming techniques. The first phase was well achieved and many farmers countrywide are now using tractors in one way or another, including by hiring,” he said.
“We are in the world of science and technology, and the government does not want to see the farmers use rudimentary or old technologies …we want to shift them to the world of technology of which they would doubled production and also improve their livelihoods,” he added.
He pointed out that the entire first phase was based on a $40m loan offered by the government of India and involved the purchase of 1846 tractors to supplement the government’s efforts to boost agriculture by selling them at an affordable price targeting small farmers.
At the moment, about 70 percent of Tanzania’s total crop area is cultivated by the hand hoe, 20 percent by oxen plough and only 10 percent by tractor.
The country needs at least 20,000 working tractors to achieve the goals of agricultural self sufficiency stated in ‘Kilimo Kwanza’, he said.