The government has ordered commercial seedlings producers to register themselves with TOSCI within six months starting May 13, this year or get out of that business.
While stakeholders hailed the government directive, they also called on TOSCI to make it to be known to producers and make the exercise a big success.
Laurent Ssemudu said TOSCI must develop a clear system that will motivate producers to register themselves and should cooperate with the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania, Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA) and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) in this move. “If seedlings are not properly grown or are not grown at all or are not verified, there is no point of having TOSCI,” he said, adding that TOSCI must have a database of producers.
Joyce Macha said TOSCI must know the environment under which producers are doing their work, the reasons for starting the business and the market for their seedlings.
“That people are venturing in this business, is ample evidence that the seedlings have a market in their areas. TOSCI has a duty to make it to be known to those people, to know the producers and encourage them. Not every producer knows the existence of TOSCI and where it is. Our entrenched problem in this country is that we have armchair professionals and workers who never visit producers and farmers to know their problems, challenges and successes,” she said.
Mbeya-based Mkombozi Agribusiness General Manager, Elly Richard Hongoli, said a good system of producing horticultural seedlings is a welcome, long-awaited move for saving farmers from the hazards of using poor seedlings.
“Our experience has shown us that farmers have suffered big losses for using poor seedlings, either the seedlings get stunted, or they do not grow at all. Elsewhere, a farmer expects to get HASS fruits but gets BACON fruits, far from his or her expectations. This is very frustrating,” he said.
Njombe-based Lusitu Agro-business Director, Benno Mgaya, said the proposed system will be a panacea to current problems farmers are facing by using poor seedlings. He said farmers who are using poor seedling are getting fruits that have no market. Their company produces avocado seedlings.
Mgaya volunteered to work with Sagcot to spread proper crop husbandry to farmers, saying it is Sagcot that has helped him immensely to develop his company and serve farmers. “We are where we are because of Sagcot’s help. We have crossed Njombe borders and now we are serving Ruvuma farmers. Farmers need education on how to identify and use right seedlings in order to have profitable business,” said.
During the symposium, the Minister for Agriculture, Hussein Bashe said the government has given seedlings producers six months to register with TOSCI. Those who will fail to register with TOSCI will be risking losing licences.
The SAGCOT Chief Executive Officer, Geoffrey Kirenga, told the symposium that having right seedlings reaching farmers will be a big stride in effecting the necessary reforms in Tanzania’s farming.
The symposium was jointly organised by SAGCOT, AGRA and TAHA.