In the Bulombora region of Kigoma of Tanzania, prisons and National Service 821KJ are planting 2 000 hectares of palm trees in order to address the country’s recurring scarcity of edible oil.
The defence and security forces’ participation in local palm oil production is hoped to cut the amount of foreign money spent on cooking oil imports drastically. Tanzania spends about Sh470 billion every year to import around 400 000 tonnes of cooking oil, according to statistics.
Currently, the country’s need for cooking oil is 650 000 tonnes per year, while yearly output is at 290 000 tonnes, equating to a 360 000 tonne annual shortfall.
Involvement of the defence and security forces in local palm oil production, on the other hand, may assist to close the gap. The effort is in reaction to prime minister Kassim Majaliwa’s directive, which requires them to plant a total of 8 000 hectares of palm trees.
The prisons and National Service 821KJ Bulombora partnered with the Kihinga Centre of the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (Tari), to grow seedlings that would be delivered to security institutions and other farmers in order to carry out the premier’s mandate.
“Deficit in food supply, edible oil in particular, is a common occurrence in Tanzania. The deficit in edible oil from the domestic supply is mainly due to the use of poor production technology that includes the use of unimproved seed, coupled with dependence on rain-fed agriculture, leads to low productivity.
“However, the high rates of population growth and industrialisation increase demand for edible oil both for home consumption and industrial use,” explained CP Mgeni, an academic, in a research paper titled Can sub-Saharan Africa become food self-sufficient? Analyzing the market demand for sunflower edible oil in Tanzania.
The defence and security forces have started to help the surrounding community by providing them with better palm seedlings. Farmers have received 115 000 seedlings via the National Service, while 8 000 seedlings have been delivered free of charge by the Kwitanga prison to farmers in various municipalities.