“We had no idea that sisal wastes can make the best livestock feed that adds weight to cattle. We are grateful to Oxfam Tanzania experts for helping us as most of us can now process the feed out of sisal remaining”, said Hellena Samson, a sisal grower from Migunga village in Mwataga ward.
Samson said since she began processing the animal feed in June 2019, she has been able to produce enough for her cattle as well as selling to fellow livestock keepers in the village.
“We prepare the animal feed by mixing sisal wastes with corn husks, sunflower and rice. As part of a trial, I am giving the fattening feed to four out of 12 cattle, and I am seeing the difference”, she said adding that animals ate the food twice a week.
She noted that after harvesting and processing sisal from her three acres farm, she was able to get two sacks of dried sisal wastes. She said a sack of dried sisal residue is sold at 5,000/-.
“I can now make 20 sacks of cattle fattening feed per month,” said Samson insisting to have shifted from cultivation of traditional crops such as maize and cotton.
Oxfam Tanzania is implementing the projects in partnership with the Relief to Development Society (REDESO). There are more than 3,500 farmers in the sisal value chain in Kishapu and over 950 in Meatu district.
REDESO field officer, Erica kalutha said they engaged experts from Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA). She said that first trial results have showed that the feed can add between 10 and 15 kilogrammes to cattle within three months. She said the animal feed was tested to nearly 90 cattle in the district.
Kalutha noted that villagers giving the food to their cattle are likely to fetch better market prices since fattened cattle are sold at between 800,000/- and 1m/- which is high compared to a normal market price of 300,000 per cow.
Oxfam Tanzania programmes manager for Lake Zone, Boniventure Kagayo said that almost 96 percent of sisal is yet to be properly exploited.
He said the organisation is working with SUA to conduct an evaluation of concentrations in sisal wastes to identify the types of products that can be made out of it apart from animal feed and manure.
Kagayo said villagers have changed their mindset towards agriculture with most of them engaging in commercial cultivation of the cash crop.
“More villagers especially women are engaging in sisal cultivation and entrepreneurship activities. They can even negotiate prices in accordance with production cost,” he noted.
Tanzania is one of the major exporters of quality sisal fibre in East Africa with its products been sold in Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Egypt, India, China, Morocco, Libya, German Spain, Kenya and Japan, according to the Tanzania Sisal Board (TSB).
Statistics from TSB indicates that Tanzania exports between 75 and 80 percent of its produced sisal fibre.
Tanzania’s sisal fibre exports doubled in six years between 2012 and 2017 from 15,541 tonnes to 25,471 tonnes with earnings rising similarly from $ 21.08 million to $ 41.1 million as a result of improvement in the international sisal market due to rise in utilization of sisal especially in construction activities.