TARI director general Dr. Geoffrey Mkamilo made the remarks recently after a tour of Mtibwa Sugar Estate Ltd and other sugar producing companies in Morogoro Region where he said TARI has the key role to play and contribute to achieve sugar self sufficient in the country.
He underscored the need for fruitful commercial production adding that can be achieved if sugarcane stakeholders such as the sugar producing companies and the farmers will increase uptake of technologies generated by TARI Kibaha along with agricultural best practices.
He said also that the farmers must change from traditional agriculture which has always been giving them 4.6 metric tonnes per hectare to 12 metric tonnes under irrigation agriculture.
“We need to increase partnership in research and technology transfer with sugar producing companies, farmers and other stakeholders to increase productivity so that we can achieve and surpass the national target of sugar self sufficient,” he said.
TARI director general remarks comes at a time when the current statistics of sugar demand stands at 650,000 metric tonnes against production capacity of 300,000 metric tonnes.
“We are almost half way. So there is this gap that we have to ensure we as research institute, we contribute to bridge it. We can successfully do so if our farmers will adopt new technologies, innovation and good agricultural practices from TARI Kibaha. This, for sure, will enhance sugarcane production and productivity in this country,” he said.
“I have made this visit to assess and see for myself research and development of sugarcane and sugar production in different sugar producing companies and I have realised that out growers especially those depending on nature have low yields.
Normally when the farmer conducts agriculture under irrigation and adheres to all agricultural best practices, he or she can harvest up to 12 metric tons against the current harvest of 4.6 metric tonses of sugarcane per hectare,” he said.
“When you conduct irrigation agriculture, you increase crop productivity per unit area. As TARI, we shall continue to promote research, technologies, and best practices to help the farmers increase production,” he said.
He called on all sugarcane farmers to adopt the new technologies from TARI Kibaha saying the centre has several varieties that are suitable for irrigation agriculture which, farmers can use to improve and increase production.
Mtibwa Sugar Estate Ltd commended Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI) for extended research and technologies saying supply of quality improved seeds and education has boosted much the company’s production of quality sugar.
Mtibwa Sugar Estate Ltd, agricultural manager Nassoro Abubakari said TARI has so far created conducive working environment for both the factory and out growers especially in the area of advisory services, improved varieties, and good agricultural practices.
Citing an example he said Mtibwa Sugar Estate Ltd has got five quality sugarcane varieties from TARI-Kibaha which are under commercial production. They are N25, N41, N12, R570, R579 adding that within five years the factory is going to increase production from the current 40 metric tonnes to 100,000 metric tonnes per annum.
“We have got over two hundred varieties which are in different stages of evaluation. Therefore, TARI Kibaha has been very useful to the company’s activities such as research, technologies and technology transfer to the out growers to make sure that we improve productivity per unit area,” he said
“For a long time we have been in good and healthy relationship with TARI. I believe we will actually manage to improve sugarcane and sugar production. With this partnership, we promise you that in the next five years, Mtibwa Sugar Estate Ltd will have done complete transformation to achieve 100,000 metric tonnes of sugar per annum,” he said
“President John Magufuli has given us a challenge to produce more sugar and be self sufficient, we are working hard and we will not disappoint him,” he explained.
TARI Kibaha Manager Hildelitha Msita TARI Kibaha has the national mandate to coordinate the exercise and some of the main stakeholders are the sugar producing factories like Mtibwa sugarcane Estates Ltd.
“As researchers we are working on different technologies which are used by sugar producing companies and the farmers to grow sugarcanes for the industries.
She said it is important that there must be a strong partnership between TARI Kibaha and the main stakeholders to scale up and increase sugar production in the country.
“This can only be achieved if the sugar producing companies and the farmers will adopt new technologies produced by researchers at TARI-Kibaha because they geared at improving production.
She called on the farmers to visit and make use of TARI-Kibaha saying it has already technologies innovation and good agricultural practices available and suitable for the farmers and other stakeholders.
So far the Centre has seven good improved varieties for sugarcane and there are other six which are going to be released by next month making a total of thirteen improved varieties suitable for sugarcane.
“If farmers real want technologies related to improved varieties, good agricultural practices or diseases and paste management they are all available. It is important that they find time and visit Kibaha for improved sugar cane and productivity in their localities.
Sugarcane lead scientist and National Coordinator Dr. Nessie Luambano explained that as a lead scientist in sugarcane she works very closely with different stakeholders. “We are generating different technologies like drough-tolerant seed varieties and those useful under irrigation for the farmers. We are also conducting other extension advisory services like providing education on the best practices, prevention of diseases etc so that the farmers can produce good and desired results,” she said.
TARI Kibaha will enhance the use of the technology transfer section to transfer the technologies to the farmers through farmer field days, agriculture exhibition, and media to inform the farmers.
Hadija Kondo, a sugarcane farmer commended the current performance of Mtibwa Sugar Estate Ltd saying unlike in the past, the company has improved production and working conditions of the farmers.
“TARI is doing a great job. For example, researchers have established nurseries and demo plots which are used by farmers to learn and acquire new technologies for sugarcane development. There are also nurseries for the sugarcane out growers and for the Estate a well,” she said.
Traditional seeds which have been used for long time are now being replaced by new improved seeds from TARI. We only use official channel to get them and delivery is faster,” she added.
She said TARI researchers have been visiting their farms regularly providing education on the agricultural best practices and technologies. “They have provided education to the agricultural extension officers so that even after their absence, the extension officers will continue carrying out their work of ensuring the farmers produce sugarcane profitably.
Hassan Kandoro, a farmer from Kichangani village in Mvomero District said unlike in the past, nowadays research and technologies have improved production for the farmers. “In recent years, the out growers have access to agricultural extension advisory services that include pate management.