Mechanised potato farming starts in southern corridor

15Feb 2017
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Mechanised potato farming starts in southern corridor

IN a bid to multiply Irish round potato production in Tanzania, the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzanians (SAGCOT) has introduced potato growers to mechanised farming in selected areas of the corridor.

Geoffrey Kirenga

The SAGCOT Centre Ltd chief executive officer, Geoffrey Kirenga yesterday told stakeholders attending a potato production workshop organised here to make them get conversant with a variety of high-level potato production needs, that use of tractors was “a significant component of the production needs.”

Kirenga said; “we are introducing growers to tilling, planting and manuring with tractors in identified farms within the corridor. The next stage will be to train them to use tractors in harvesting.”

The CEO said that using tractors to achieve the two results was basic because it will help to reduce drastically post-harvest losses.

“At the moment growers dig out potatoes using hoes leaving a lot of them in the soil and to their disadvantage”, the CEO said.

SAGCOT is a strategic stakeholder that invested about 700m/- in partnership with Tanzanian-Dutch potato seed multiplication project that seeks to introduce 14 varieties of high-yield potato seed to Tanzania and simultaneously increase income of growers.

SAGCOT has accumulated experience in the field because it has what is known as SAGCOT potato partnership in Njombe Region --- a coalition of partners that has in the past few years introduced improved seed, mechanisation and proper crop husbandry to Njombe potato farmers.

Meanwhile a Dutch government representative, Jos van Meggelen, hinted to the workshop participants that a similar project was in the offing, “because the initial response of stakeholders had been overwhelming. We have cause to think about talking with the government of Tanzania to start another similar project.”

Van Meggelen said after the workshop some field visits will be launched to get first-hand information from farmers.

TOSCI representative, Zera Mwaukemwa, explained the history of introducing high-yield potato seed, saying that before the year 2013 growers were using poor quality varieties.

“Finland intervened giving us four high-yield seed varieties called Tengeru, Meru, Sherehekea and Asante from their Kenya-based centre.” He said.

Tanzania and Holland last year signed the contract to execute the present 388,000-Euro project due to end in 2019.