The farmers who only a few years ago cultivated farms of less than 10 acres planting maize, sorghum and beans mainly for domestic consumption and selling, have since become big farmers cultivating more than 100 acres.
“I am very grateful to SBL for their project which has helped me increase my farm size because the company provides me with hybrid seeds and other inputs timely,” said Manyara based Mwinyi Makame.
Makame whose farm size has increased from less than 100 acres over two years ago to over 500 acres, attributes his dramatic growth to the brewer support in all aspects of the cereal production value chain.
“I have increased my farm size annually because SBL provides a lucrative and reliable market,” he said adding that as SBL is expanding its factories, he will increase his farm size accordingly to meet growing demand for maize, sorghum and barley used as raw materials by the Dar es Salaam based brewer.
Makame’s observation was backed by Kilimanjaro based large scale commercial farmer, Saidi Msuya who said his own dramatic growth is a result of working in partnership with SBL. “Through SBL's agri-business project, I have improved both quality and quantity of my commodities thanks to the company’s consistent supply of inputs such as fertilizer, hybrid seeds, insecticides but also extension services,” Msuya said.
He also concurred with his Manyara peer that the reliable market for commodities being provided by SBL is an incentive to many smallholder farmers to increase yields through enlargement of their farm sizes.
SBL’s agribusiness project is indeed a game changer because so long as it needs raw materials to manufacture beers most of whose brands are popular in the market, the smallholder farmers can only hope for the best future.
“To us it’s an empowerment project which aims to back government efforts to help smallholder subsistent farmers graduate into large scale commercial farmers,” said SBL’s Corporate Affairs Director, John Wanyancha.
Wanyancha said the more than 400 smallholder farmers from eight regions of have been contracted to cultivate cereals used to make different beer brands belonging to SBL.
He said, SBL has, over the last five years, embarked on empowering the smallholder farmers produce quality cereals in large quantities which the brewer uses as raw materials in the manufacturing of alcoholic beverages.
The SBL Corporate Affairs chief further noted that the brewer which has three factories located in Dar es Salaam, Moshi, and Mwanza, supports the entire value chain of cereals production to ensure consistency.
"To date, this project has benefited more than 400 smallholder cereal farmers across several regions including Arusha, Manyara, Mbeya, Kilimanjaro, Singida, Morogoro, Shinyanga and Dodoma who collectively cultivate around 20,000 acres," Wanyancha added.
Because of the achievement that the project has made so far, SBL plans to enrol more farmers countrywide so that the country’s target of changing agriculture production from subsistence to commercial is realised by 2025.
“The main objective of this grand initiative is to work with Tanzanian farmers to help them create self-sustaining businesses and secure the local production of raw materials. The SBL agribusiness partnership with the farmers is geared towards propping up their financial position and those of their families,” he stressed.
He said as a company, SBL which obtains over 70 percent of raw materials used in alcoholic beverages production, reduces imports of raw materials hence saves the country from unnecessary expenditure of foreign currency.
"In addition to such contributions to the country’s economy, SBL has also paid taxes, created hundreds of jobs both directly and indirectly but also invests comprehensively in corporate social responsibility,” he noted.
When more farmers are recruited by the agribusiness project, the trickledown effect will further boost growth of the economy but also rescue thousands of farming families from the poverty trap which is largely confined to rural areas.
“This is the fourth year that SBL has undertaken this project and so far over a million kilograms of hybrid cereal seeds have been distributed to the farmers who in turn sell their produce to the company,” he underlined.