Malagano village is the region’s grain basket, accounting for roughly 60 per cent of maize produced in the region. The regional government wants to use the initiative launched by the private company to ensure the region’s 574,291 hectares of arable land are used to the maximum to produced cereals, especially maize, for local and export markets.
“Maize is in great demand locally and in neighbouring countries. We need better and bigger tools to produce more maize for these markets,” said Gasper Mpepo, adding that “our village is the biggest producer of maize in Rukwa Region.”
Malagano AMCOS Chairman, Norbert Sikombe, the society would ensure members have the land tilled in time and farmers would increase tilled acreage. He described the joint private public farm implements supply initiative as a very welcome development.
Rukwa region’s cross-border trade in foodstuffs is poised to grow further because a good number of the region’s residents live in Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo. The Diaspora statistics of the National Bureau of Statistics (2016) show that Rukwa Region has some 16,563 Rukwa residents living in Zambia (67percent) and DRC (17 percent).
“We want to sell more foodstuffs to Zambia and Congo because they want our maize and other crops every year,” Mpepo said.
The pre-delivery training of villagers and their cooperative leaders is conducted by Agricom Africa workers before the company supplies tractors and other implements to cooperative societies is a special tripartite arrangement between the company, the regional leadership and cooperative unions.
Maize is the region’s dominant annual crop, followed by paddy, finger millet, sorghum, wheat and bulrush millet. Maize constitutes 73.6 percent of total area planted with annual crops and tractors would increase maize and vegetable production in the region.
DaudiSungura of Chipukilichopo farmers’ group said the tractors to be supplied under the proposed arrangement would increase the number of tractors in the region. “We have very few tractors in the region for rent. We need more tractors to increase production,” he said.
Sikombe confirmed the tractor shortage in the region, saying smallholders in need of tractors for hire have to wait for a long time and usually miss the important first rains.
Acting General Manager of the Agricom Africa Company, Remmy Nindi, said the company was committed to the arrangement and would supply tractors in time. “Rukwa Region can produce more maize that it currently produces by using tractors and by improving extension services to farmers,” he said.
Tractors would be given to a cooperative society with 72 members and capable of paying for the tractors. The company has offices in Morogoro, Mbeya, Dodoma na Kahama towns.