This was revealed by TARI director general, Dr Geoffrey Mkamilo during his visit in Kigoma Region to examine the production of better oil palm seeds following directives from the prime minister Kassim Majaliwa.
Dr Mkamilo said the regions in which researches were conducted have shown they are best suited for oil palm farming and therefore can help in palm oil production.
TARI - Kihinga director Dr Filson Kagimbo said they have come up with a strategy to revive the oil palm farming because the palms produce big quantity of oil per acre as compared to other oil producing crops such as sunflower.
He said Kigoma Region has huge opportunities in increasing palm oil production by using better seeds, adding that they are currently conducting research so that they scale up production of oil from 1.6 tonnes per hectare to 3 – 4 tonnes per hectare.
He said TARI’s three-year plan is to distribute 15 million seedlings, an average of five million seedlings per year, a step that will help reduce government’s cost to import palm oil.
Dr Mkamilo added: “If the plan works Tanzania can encourage neighbouring Kenya to import oil from us instead of importing 80 percent of its palm oil requirements from outside – including Rwanda and Sudan.
He said at present many oil palm trees are over 50 years old and others approaching 100 years, at this age their oil producing capacity goes down as compared to modern oil palm trees.
TARI Ag research manager - crops Dr Geoffrey Kajiru said what the institute is currently doing is to change farmers’ mindsets so that they abandon traditional seeds and use modern ‘tenera’ seeds with higher oil producing capacity.