The management of SUMA JKT Kilimo Kwanza tractor project has resolved to speed up establishment of mechanisation centres countrywide where farmers will be able to hire the equipment at affordable prices.
This was confirmed by the Project Manager, Col Felix Samillan in the face of growing concerns over high prices of the tractors, which the majority of farmers could not afford and which in turn
affected Kilimo Kwanza initiative.
According to the project manager, they intend to speed up the establishment of mechanisation centres throughout the country to allow farmers, especially smallholders ones, to hire the equipment at affordable charges.
“The intention is to speedily move farmers from the hand hoe to modern farming techniques,” noted Col Samillan.
“We are in the world of science and technology, but our farmers are still using rudimentary and old technologies (hand hoe)…we want to transfer them to the world of technology…that’s why we are now speeding up establishment of the centres to help them to hire tractors at affordable prices,” he added.
Improved technology, he said, would help farmers increase agricultural productivity in the country.
He said the centres would be established in all the regions where small holders-farmers will have access to equipment, explaining that farmers will have to form groups to make it easier for them to hire the tractors.
“At the end of the day farmers who are currently using hand hoes will be able to buy their own tractors…this is because by hiring the tractors they will increase their productivity and generate more incomes to eventually purchase their own tractors,” said project manager.
He also urged the government to remove unnecessary barriers which were it impossible for small farmers to get agricultural loans for purchasing essential farming equipment and inputs.
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.
“We are still in talks with the government in a move to reduce unnecessary blocks and thus enable farmers access loans easily for their activities,” said SUMA JKT official. In order to overcome the challenges of Kilimo Kwanza initiative, he said the government through Suma JKT had reduced the prices of tractors by about 25 per cent from 25m/- to 16m/- to enable smallholder farmers.
“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 more than 300 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 agricultural sector by selling tractors at reduced price which targeted small farmers.
But the move was hit by the inflated price of small tractors (power Tillers) as observed by the Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda when visiting various regions.
In 2009, the premier was shocked over the inflated price of a power tiller, which was being sold at 9m/- instead of the actual price of 6m/- by then.
He was amazed when speaking to Kwitanga villagers in Kigoma Region soon after handing over power tillers to farming groups who had attended a two-week training on the use of the simple farm implements and queried why the price was higher than the actual price.
Previously the government had instructed each district in the country to buy at least 50 power tillers for its Kilimo Kwanza programme.
Pinda was quoted when visiting Mtwara region in November 2009 directing leaders of all councils in the region to purchase 200 power tillers before the end of the year and submit a report to him by December 31, 2009.