Why sesame farmers demand government policy for their crop

29Mar 2016
Crispin Gerald
The Guardian
Why sesame farmers demand government policy for their crop

Agriculture stakeholders have appealed to the government to introduce specific policy for sesame production to promote and develop the crop as it contributes highly to raise government coffers.

In 2013 Tanzania was the fifth world exporter for sesame after India, China, Ethiopia and Sudan, but to date there has not been any policy to develop it as commercial crop

Despite the fact that, in few years back, the production for sesame went higher than other commercial crops, there has been no policy or regulation to develop it like other crops like cotton and tea.

Stakeholders insisted for establishment of policy to help farmers in terms of pricing for sesame as most of them are still crying for low price despite the huge capital they normally invest during farming.

Speaking to reporters recently in Morogoro Dean, School of Agricultural Economic and Business Studies at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) Prof Damian Gabagambi said the policy is supposed to advocate for presence of subsidy to sesame crop in order to give relief to farmers and to facilitate them to produce effectively.

He raised the concern during a one day training to journalist on mainstreaming for sesame production and marketing realities organized by National Network of Farmers Groups in Tanzania (Mviwata) and Africa Institute for Economic and Social Development (INADES).

The training in Morogoro was mainly for the implementation of Tanzania Small holder Sesame Production and Marketing Project TSSPMP III 2015-18. The project designed to improve production, quality, management and marketing practices and to incorporate small holders into sesame value chain.

Funded by Comic Relief, a major charity based in UK with a total amount of 3bn/- is currently implemented by Farm Africa together with its partner’s Community Support Initiatives (Cosita) in Babati, INADES at Bahi-Dodoma and Manyoni-Singida while Mviwata implements across all three Districts respectively.

According to statistics, in 2013 Tanzania stands the fifth world exporter for sesame production after India, China, Ethiopia and Sudan.

The subsidy system to sesame despite other thing will also help to add value to the crop and subsequently attract internal market.

Prof detailed that, there is no problem for availability of market for sesame crops produced in Tanzania on grounds that the demand from outside market is higher especially in Arabic nations.

"The market for sesame crop is three times of its production in Tanzania, adding that if the crop will be effectively cultivated it will contribute to large percent of country economy," he said.

Apart from that, the government is supposed to establish specific board for sesame crop that shall despite other thing oversee the entire chain for production and its marketing.

For his part, Mviwata Executive Director Steven Ruvuga said in 2013, the average production for sesame was 6.7percent making the country to reach the world average producers.

Ruvuga said by 2013, total of 560,000 tones of sesame crop was produced in Tanzania. Today production is down due to lack of government support.

“The project implemented that is implemented in Bahi and Manyoni is targeting at helping farmers to develop sesame production by using modern seed namely Lindi 2002,” he said.

"Most of farmers are ignorant of knowledge on the potentiality for crop in terms of economic development, that is why few of them engaged in the production," the director explained.

“Our aim is to show how the crop is potential to farmers and to national economy as well,” he explained.
He appealed to the government to take control of the whole barriers facing sesame production and to create suitable circumstances reminiscent of major world exporters like China, Japan, Sudan, Ethiopia and India to develop the production.

Project Facilitator for Mviwata Acquiline Wamba said the sesame crop is highly cultivated in Lindi, Mtwara, Ruvuma, Morogoro, Dodoma, Tanga, Coast region, and southern zones including Rukwa and Mbeya.

She added that, during 2012 farming season, the production for sesame recorded 59,103 tones equivalent to 9.2 percent of the total oil seed crops.

Wamba mentioned several challenges that still face the crop that includes absence of subsidy from the government contrary to other cash crops that has been subsidized by the government.

“But also absence of policy on sesame crop to guide and develop the entire production of the crop for the benefit of the community,” she said.

She called upon for government to invest in the crop to stimulate its production for economic development.
For his part, Project Manager for Farm Africa Phulumensi Kavumvuli the project goal is to reduce poverty through increased household income of 10,000 smallholder farmers and 100 entrepreneurs in three districts by June 2018.

“ It also identify constraints include: poor access to quality seed/agro inputs, good agricultural practices(GAP) training, pests, high prices for seed, aggregation by weight instead of volume, high transport costs,” he said.

“Lack of knowledge for marketing principles, low take up of micro credit, lack of access to agro inputs, storage materials, and poor link between sesame farmers and buyer,” the manager added.

Commenting, Joel Ndalu one of sesame growers raised concern over the extreme low prices for the crops, crying foul over the unnecessary long and haphazard chain of intruders on the way to the consumer market.

He argued for government intervention in getting them rid of the middlemen whom they alleged were corrupting the market by dipping prices of sesame at the detriment of the farmers.

“The government should set specific regulations to stop middlemen from dipping prices of sesame and other crops down to their own advantages,” Joel Ndalu insisted.

He accused middlemen of cheating innocent farmers through manipulation of weights when purchasing agro products from producers.

“The middlemen are forcing us into selling our produce at throw away prices just because we don’t have other option for accessing reliable market for sesame,” he explained.

Stakeholder recommended for sensitization for Local Government Authorities (LGA) in Babati, Manyoni and Bahi to give sesame preferential treatment in the District Agricultural Development Plans (DADPS).

Sesame is highly cultivated in Lindi, Mtwara, Ruvuma and coast region, Morogoro, Dodoma, Tanga, Rukwa and Mbeya.