Tz to boost palm oil production to reduce edible oil import dependence

11Apr 2020
Gerald Kitabu
The Guardian
Tz to boost palm oil production to reduce edible oil import dependence

Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) has established six district councils in Kigoma region to grow a total of 10.5 million tenera seeds variety on an area that covers 73,314 hectares.

TARI director general Dr. Geoffrey Mkamilo (R) and TARI board chairman Dr. Yohana Budeba (Left in black dress) admires one of oil palm group farmers belonging to ‘Nguvu Kazi Farmers’ Group’ at Nguruka Itebula village, Uvinza district in Kigoma region. Photo: Guardian Correspondent Gerald Kitabu

This is only half way of about 114,000 hectares of land in Kigoma region which is suitable for oil palm production. If the area will be utilised well, definitely the nation will be able to reduce edible oil import dependence in the country.

If the improved tenera variety seedlings which produce 5 times higher palm oil per hectare compared to locally grown dura will be well managed by the six district councils of Kigoma, adhering to good agricultural practices, they are enough to produce a total of 366,570 metric tonnes which actually surpasses the current country’s 365,000 metric tons of edible oil imported from outside Tanzania, mainly Malaysia and Coast Rica.

In other words, it means that if only six district councils of Kigoma can manage well the 73,314ha of tenera variety and produce 366,570 metric tonnes, it is possible for the country to produce more than 570,000 metric tonnes of vegetable oil which actually required every year.

According to TARI’s director general Dr. Geoffrey Mkamilo, the country has the capacity to produce only 40 percent of 570,000 metric tonnes where as 60 per cent is actually imported from other countries.

Importation of this costs approximately 443 billion annually but basically if Tanzania can effectively and efficiently use this potential land and produce TENERA locally, we can be able to meet the requirement and produce surplus for export.

The current situation in the six district councils in Kigoma region

In each of the six district councils in Kigoma region, TARI has supplied thousands of pre-germinated seeds. Citing an example, Dr. Geoffrey Mkamilo explained that in Uvinza district council alone, TARI supplied a total of 35,000 pre-germinated seeds but amount germinated was 26,054 which is equivalent to 74.4 percent.

In Kigoma district council, TARI supplied a total of 36,000 pre-germinated seeds but the amount germinated was 22,468 which is equivalent to 62.4 percent.

In Kigoma Municipal council, TARI supplied a total of 30,000 pre-germinated seeds, but the amount germinated was 11, 023 which is equivalent to 36.7 percent. Amount supplied in Kasulu town was 30,000 but amount of seeds germinated was 9,356 which is equivalent to 31.2 percent.

TARI also supplied a total of 30,000 pre-germinated seeds to Buhigwe district council but amount of seeds germinated was 9,344 which is equivalent to 31.1 percent. Kasulu district Council received a total of 30,000 seeds but the amount of seeds germinated was 8,000 equivalent to 20 percent.

Uvinza district agricultural, irrigation and cooperative officer (DAICO) Engineer Masolwa Salum said that oil palm has become one of the priority and strategic crops in the district.

“After TARI has supplied these seeds, we convened a meeting with all school head teachers, coordinators, institutions and farmer groups. They committed themselves on the number of seeds each the institution or farmer groups should take and work on. Before they were given, they were required to bring commitment letters to ensure the seeds would be managed well and would all germinate,” he said.

He said the pre-germinated seeds were all distributed to Nine Primary schools, five secondary schools and four farmer groups. Salum requested TARI to supply extra 22,000 pre-germinated seeds for the district council.

“I commend TARI Kihinga for technical backstopping. We have been working with researchers from this centre very closely that’s why you can see these fruitful results,” he said.

uvinza district executive director Weja Lutobolwa Ng’ollo said that the district has done well because of high level commitment. The district has bigger agricultural land and the oil palm project is working very closely with researchers and other stakeholders.

He said so far the district has saved more than 156m/- shillings from receiving 26,054 seeds from TARI. Such money would have been used to buy the seeds from private oil palm seed companies.

Dr. Geoffrey Mkamilo commended commitment and the efforts being taken by all six district councils in Kigoma and called on the authorities to increase commitment and to set aside adequate budget for dissemination and management of the Oil Palm Seedlings.

“These efforts of multiplying and disseminating the improved seeds of Oil Palm at local government authorities and to farmers in Kigoma and elsewhere is basically trying to address the issue of importation of vegetable edible oil from Malaysia and some other countries like Costa Rica, which, in recent years has cost the nation billions of shillings,” he said.

TARI’s board chairman Dr. Yohana Budeba who also spent a week long in the field to talk to different institutions, and the farmers’ groups on the achievements made and challenges they faced, lauded the institutions and all district councils for hard work and for adhering the Prime Minister’s directives.

He called on the government institutions to ensure the surrounding communities are part of the beneficiaries of the improved TENERA seedlings.

“We are heeding the government directives. I have come to see for myself the progress of this oil palm project in your respective areas. You have done a very good work, and keep it up,” he said.

As board chair, you have encouraged me to supervise TARI properly so that together we can register more achievements and attain the main goal of addressing the problem of importation of vegetable edible oil in the country, he added.

Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI) has put in place a new comprehensive Oil Palm Seed Road Map (OPSRM), which, among other things, will ensure production and dissemination of a total of five million improved seeds of oil palm variety called tenera by June this year. We are also planning to produce and disseminate 20 million improved seeds in four years time.

The new OPSRM also involves further studying of the characteristics of tenera parents that is dura and pisifera to get the best tenera progenies to be used to raise the yield from 5 metric tones per hectare to 9 metric tonnes for our farmers, he added.