Agriculture Minister, Prof Adolf Mkenda said the government is implementing a strategy that seeks to ensure Tanzania deters from acute shortage of edible oil within two years.
To ensure the initiative fetches fruitful results, the minister said the government in this financial year has increased budget allocation to ASA from 5.52bn/- to 10.58bn/-
“Our focus is to empower the agency to engage in mass cultivation of sunflower seeds at its farms in order to supply them to farmers,” he said.
Prof Mkenda added that plans are also to ensure ASA farms are installed with modern irrigation schemes as well as other necessary agricultural infrastructures, including modern warehouses.
“We want to see ASA making full utilization of all its 13 farms scattered at different areas countrywide, this will curb the shortage of quality sunflower seed varieties and other key crops,” he said adding the ministry is looking for an extra land for ASA’s farm expansion drive.
The minister expressed dismay that the government spends around 500bn/- annually to import edible oil while the country has a vast potential to manufacture sunflower seeds.
“Most farmers fail to engage into vast production of sunflower due to unavailability of seeds, a situation which automatically frustrate local edible oil manufacturers,” he added.
National Coordinator for Sunflower form the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) Frank Reuben, said that until last week, the demand for edible oil in Tanzania was 650,000MT, whereby in a period from 2018-2020 the demand was 570,000MT.
He expressed that production of sunflower in the country is now at 290,000 tonnes compared to 205,000 tonnes in the past year. Sunflower contributes to at least 68.9 percent of all edible oil produced in Tanzania, whereby the remaining 30.1 percent are coming from other crops, including palm oil.
ASA Chief Executive Officer, Dr Sophia Kashenge said within four years, the agency has managed to improve its seed production levels from 557 tonnes in 2016/2017 to at least 1,750 tonnes in 2019/2020.
The production of improved seed varieties is projected to improve from the current 1750 to 3750 tonnes by 2022, she said.
She said the agency anticipates at improving its irrigation infrastructures, a project which will see installation of modern irrigation schemes to a tune of at least 250 acres at its different farms.
With a mandate to produce government seeds, ASA plus its land resources is currently contributing at least 28 per cent of all seeds produced in Tanzania.
Statistics shows that demand for seeds in Tanzania stands at 186,500 tonnes per year, but the amount that is being produced is 71,000 tonnes only.