By MICHAEL SIKAPUNDWA, MOROGORO
AT least 16 indigenous farmers and pastoralists groups have been awarded 1.95m/- for their positive contribution towards promoting organic agriculture within the country, thanks to Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT).
The excelling pastorals and growers are from Mvomero and Morogoro district councils as well as the Kilimanjaro region.
Handing over the awards at the 8th Agro-ecological forum, Seed Fair and Organic Food Festival, held yesterday in Morogoro, District Commissioner (DC) for Morogoro, Albert Msando, hailed the groups for standing at the forefront in fostering organic agriculture.
“I am told that you have been receiving key knowledge, but also practising organic agriculture for over ten years now, it’s an impressive development,” he appreciated.
He expressed to have been impressed with the professional manner in which SAT has successfully managed to negate a spate of land feuds that were seriously brewing between pastoralists and the farmers from across the country.
In his remarks, DC Msando also ordered the Morogoro District Council’s Cooperative Societies to develop a professional and viable platform to allow its farmers’ members to access capital loans from diverse financial institutions.
“Contrary to former years, currently agriculture is bankable whereby most of the country’s micro and macro-financial institutions are keen to roll -out loans to the farmers,”
“Please make sure you abide to allow the necessary process in order to assist the farmers to engage into large plantations of economic cash crops,” he challenged.
Speaking for his part, Marketing and Agricultural researcher at the Sokoine University of Agriculture ( SUA), John Kwingwa spoke over the need for the government to initiate a special board to monitor production of spices crops, the platform he said will help to encourage the performance of cultivation of spices among local farmers.
” With the proposed board, the farmers under the spices cultivation industry will stand a chance to acquire capital loans, but also, to receive the much-needed agro-technologies as well as assure markets for their produce,” he observed.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for SAT, Alex Wostry, called for the government to scale -up the provision of reliable water services to boost mushrooming of irrigation schemes, especially for the cultivation of vital economic cash crops that usually fetches the country foreign currency.
Apart from the unreliable water supply, he said poor infrastructure was another setback which retarding the farmers in the country to execute their activities intendedly, especially when it comes to travel their harvest to different crop markets,” he insisted.
For his part, the regional assistant register of cooperative societies, Keneth Shemdoe, congratulated SAT for enabling his office to register three spices farmer’s groups namely, CHAUWAVIMU, Ereto Milk Cooperative Society Ltd and Wanyama Maziwa Cooperative Society Ltd.
‘’We also feel very proud and appreciate the way SAT has played a crucial role to impart the farmers with needed awareness over the means of working in groups in order to stand a chance to receive varied agro-services,” he unveiled.
Mercy Meena, one of the awarded farmers, sensitized local farmers to adopt the use of local seed varieties, such as zebra sunflower variety which she observed has the capacity to produce up to 25 litres of edible oil from at least 85 kilograms of sunflower grains.
During the event, over 500 farmers got an opportunity to exhibit their products, including seed varieties for different crops.