Iringa records bumper harvest despite floods

13Jul 2020
Friday Simbaya
The Guardian
Iringa records bumper harvest despite floods

​​​​​​​IRINGA Region has recorded bumper harvest with surplus food this year despite destruction of crops caused by heavy rains at the beginning of 2019/2020 agricultural season.

Speaking at the weekend during harvesting day event at Mlanda village in Magulilwa Ward, Iringa Regional Agriculture Officer, Revocatus Rwegoshora said the heavy rains slightly affected the harvests but the region emains food secure. The event was organized by the One Acre Fund (OAF)

He said that initial assessment conducted at the end of month May this year showed overall, there will be surplus food although some districts will have less than expected due to effects of floods.

Rwegoshora said farmers will have enough food in their homes as well as surplus for sale.

He commended OAF which provides farm inputs, especially seeds and fertilizers to smallholder farmers on credit, for improving lives of farmers through the initiative.

Rwegoshora called on farmers who have not yet joined the fund to do so so that they can cultivate their fields in a professional way of farming and get rid of traditional farming practices.

He added that in the eight years of the existence of OAF in the region, there have been significant changes in the agricultural sector.

The guest of honour, Iringa District Administrative Secretary Etomini Kiyando, who graced the event  on behalf of Iringa District Commissioner, Richard Kasesela, urged farmers in the region to switch from subsistence farming to agribusiness.

He said that farmers should change the way they do farming from conventional farming to business due to the facilitation and support of low-cost inputs they receive from OAF, they should abandon subsistence farming.

He noted that agriculture has continued and remains the only sector that has provided employment opportunities to 70 per cent of the population in the country.

Mlanda village farmer, Vitali Samila where people harvested his farm said he had joined the OAF since 2013, and has so far been successful in increasing crop production.

He said that before joining the organization he was cultivating three acres but his yield was small compared to the OAF support, were he has been very successful.

Samila said that he was cultivating three acres where his yield was 15 sacks (bags), but after joining OAF on a flexible and cheap input loan, yields have increased where he harvests 120 sacks per eight acres due to professional farming.

He added through the Fund, that he has been able to send children to school, added to buy farms and hopes to build a modern home where he has bought 50 iron sheets and bricks for modern construction.

Neema Mpesa, a farmer from Mlanda village, said they had found success in maize farming where he described the increase in yields on acreage.

She said that after joining the fund, for the cultivation of one acre they receive between 10 -12 sacks of maize separately from the previous harvest with a minimum of five bags.

Mpesa added that the OAF lends them fertilizers and seeds for cheap terms and that the fund sends inputs in advance which give the farmer the opportunity to prepare the field early.

Senior Agriculture Officer from the Ministry of Agriculture, Michael Mayabu called on farmers who are members of OAF to repay loans early so that the process of providing input services to farmers is sustainable.

He said he had witnessed the activities carried out by OAF in Mbeya and Iringa regions as good and commended the organization for assisting the government in bringing development to farmers by providing inputs to farmers on reasonable terms.         

According to the Tanzania Government Relations Analyst at One Acre Fund, Alice Musetti, OAF was founded in 2013, which is an agricultural inputs and service provider for 56,000 smallholder farmers in Tanzania.

She noted that to provide smallholder farmers with financing and training they need to build permanent pathways to prosperity.

Musetti also said that through a complete bundle of services offered on credit, the organization delivers high-quality farm inputs to remote areas where farmers live.

She explained that OAF trains farmers on agricultural techniques proven to increase crop yields, and educates them on how to maximize the income from their harvest, hence householder food security.

She said the OAF is operating in five regions of Iringa, Njombe, Songwe, Mbeya and Arusha and so far they have started registering famers for the coming season and encouraging farmers to come in great number and register with OAF, and they do input deliver in October this year.

The harvesting day at Mlanda Village, Magulilwa Ward in Iringa District, Iringa region, the event was attended by more than 200 farmers and government officials both at local and regional levels.