The PM gave the directive yesterday when launching the exercise of planting and development of sisal seedlings at the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) Mlingano centre in Tanga Region.
Majaliwa handed over seedlings to farmers during the launch event attended by government officials, TARI researchers, investors and farmers from various districts in the region.
The Prime Minister also instructed the Ministry of Agriculture to increase budget funds to improve TARI centre infrastructures, working tools like tractors and facilities of the research centre, saying he wants to see it becoming a centre of excellence for sisal research and development as a whole..
“If we are going to have 10-acres of nurseries for each district council that grows the crop, I am confident that until the end of this year or early next year, our farmers will have enough sisal seedlings. This exercise should start now,” he emphasised.
He also directed that extension officers should seek sisal bulbils and take them to nurseries, underlining that the district councils have enough land to establish the nurseries and supply enough seedlings to the farmers.
He directed the Tanzania Sisal Board to make sure that one of the conditions given to sisal investors is that they must have special sisal nurseries for outgrowers, so that collectively they can contribute to the development of the crop.
“We should not leave this work of sisal production and dissemination to TARI alone. This research institute has a lot of work to do. It is doing research for the development of the crop and diagonising diseases, therefore district councils, investors and big famers should join hands to help produce to attain our goal,” he said.
TARI Director General Dr. Geoffrey Mkamilo said that in order to adhere to the directive by the Prime Minister, TARI shall speed up its work of producing improved seedlings. One of the varieties is hybrid 11648 which is recommended to farmers, he said
Up to the moment, the TARI Mlingano centre has planted 2.5m seedlings on a 31.6hactre farm, which shall be given to the farmers at affordable prices, he stated.
To make sure the crop is sustainable, TARI has provided extension education and demonstrating best farming practices to around 422 farmers and 840 agro extension officers, he said, noting that the farmers and agro-extension officers are now agents of change.
After expansion of the laboratory at TARI-Mlingano, it will be able to produce more than 10m seedlings per annum, he further noted.
Sisal is among seven strategic crops which the government has decided to push so that it can effectively contribute to spur the national economy, and at present it grows in Tanga, Coast, Lindi, Kilimanjaro, Morogoro, Shinyanga, Simiyu and Mara, with potential for extension elsewhere.
It is estimated that there are 44m hectares of potential land suitable for growing sisal but only 0.2 percent is being grown the crop, implying that there is still much land for farmers to expand acreage of the crop.
Currently, statistics show that sisal fibre produced in the country range between 36,000 to 38,000 tonnes, while worldwide sisal fibre production stands at 265,000 tonnes to 280,000 tonnes...read more on https://epaper.ippmedia.com