They aired the complaints at a meeting with rice farming stakeholders organised by UN Food and agricultural Organisation (FAO) in collaboration with Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
Twalibu Ubwa, a rice farmer from Pawaga Ward in Iringa Region said: “The main challenge facing us is low harvests, two tonnes of rice per hectare is very low in rice production.”
He said even that low yield, the market thereof is problematic, adding that in the last two years rice farmers have incurred losses, they have cultivated at great cost but in the market the crop became valueless.
Omary Kamchape, another rice farmer from Kilombero District said lack of reliable markets for the rice was the biggest challenge that have been retarding farmers’ efforts.
He said another big challenge is the lack of rice milling plants as the existing ones do not satisfy the competitive markets.
“Yes, there are rice mills but do not do the job as those in Morogoro town and other regions such as Mbeya,” he complained.
The Coordinator of the Empowering Plan in Experience Exchange for rice farming, Diomedes Kalisa said due to the increase of the country’s rice production, various stakeholders in rice farming, in collaboration with the government met in Morogoro Region to review the existing policies, to enable the availability of farm inputs including fertilisers, seeds and both local and foreign markets.
Kalisa said the meeting’s main aim is to look into the policy issue, due to Tanzania’s being self-sufficient in the rice crop, as well as to increase its production that will need both local and foreign markets.
He added that there is a 10-year strategic plan to develop Number Two rice crop –National Rice Development strategy II (NRDS II) for 2019-2030, that has outlined many issues including fertiliser, research, seeds and markets, and that it will concentrate in looking into how existing policies can ensure its implementation.
He also called on farmers to stop using chemical fertilisers in order to fertilize the soil, as there are other farming strategies that can fertilize the soil without using chemicals and that FAO has been providing education on the issue.
For his part TARI Ifakara Centre manager, Atugonza Bilaro said they continue with efforts to help farmers to increase production using small farming area, and added that in seed production they also target small farmers and called on them to adhere to modern farming practices.
Opening the meeting, the Director General of Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI), Patrick Ngwediagi said the government supports stakeholders in rice farming while it mobilises itself in the ongoing process to improve the 2013 Farming Policy.