Tanzania’s Chemba district aims to increase its sunflower output by more than 100 000 tonnes by the end of 2022. This, in a bid to increase the country’s access to edible sunflower oil.
Last year, the Tanzanian government allowed flower farmers to make use of subsidised seeds for just over US $3 per 2 kilogram bag. In 2020, the same bag cost farmers more than fives that price.
Tanzania is East Africa’s largest sunflower producer.
Chemba district is home to a demo farm funded by the country’s government which aims to find innovative ways to improve Tanzania’s sunflower yield. The farm, located in Dodoma, is also being used by the crop development branch of the ministry of agriculture to help the country improve its overall productivity as well.
Samia Suluhu Hassan, Tanzania’s president, has also given the ministry direct orders to plough more resources into finding ways to up sunflower yield, among others.
“The government is aware of the challenges facing the agriculture sector, especially the shortage of fertiliser caused by a decline in production as a result of Covid-19,” he said.
Cotton to the rescue
The sunflower industry within the East African country has received a budget allocation of Tsh 10.8 billion from government for the 2021-22 financial year.
Among the other agricultural harvests the president hopes to increase, is cotton. The Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB) was given Tsh 208 billion in 2021 to reach out to more farmers and fund them. The National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) was also given authority to purchase 95 000 tonnes of corn from farmers.
“We have already received 11 tonnes of the improved subsidised sunflower seeds and have sold 4.7 of them. I call on farmers to buy the improved seeds to increase production in the district,” Hassan added.
A total of 60 hectares of land at the Chemba district demo has been given to local sunflower farmers so they can be trained. In addition, each extension officer in the district has received 6 kg of seeds to hand out to farmers.
Tanzania’s climate is favourable to the growth of healthy sunflowers as it is warm and dry; exactly what the crop needs to thrive. Sunflowers are also harvest twice per year, and this makes it an appealing flower for many.