Better seeds in offing for sunflower farmers

THERE is light at the end of the tunnel for smallholder sunflower farmers as the Agricultural Markets Development Trust (AMDT) is planning to team up with seed companies to develop four to six varieties of improved seed for the cash crop.

The new types of improved hybrid sunflower seeds are set to replace the Open Pollinated Variety (OPV) seed, which has been in the use for over 50 years in the country. AMDT Programme Manager, Mr Martin Mgallah, told the ‘Daily News’ in Dar es Salaam recently that the new improved sunflower seed will increase productivity of the cash crop and profitability in the country.

The development of new improved sunflower seeds is part of a five years project to be carried out by AMDT. The AMDT has been established by the governments of Denmark, Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland with the goal to increase income and employment opportunities to poor women, men and young people in the country.

Mgallah pointed out that the programme, which will benefit about 150,000 smallholder farmers in the sunflower value chain, aims to support the national strategy of import substitution by promoting the local production of sunflower to increase local production of sunflower oil.

“This will later tremendously save foreign currencies from importing edible oil. Edible oil has become the second after petroleum on the list of importation as per Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) statistics,” he observed.

Mr Mgallah noted further that the programme will stimulate the private sector to invest in supplying improved seed varieties to farmers through proper distribution channels while also encouraging the public sector through responsible research institutes to invest in developing the breeding capacity for new hybrid seed varieties in the longer term.

He mentioned the regions where the project will be executed as Mbeya, Songwe, Katavi, Rukwa, Iringa, Njombe, Dodoma, Singida, Shinyanga, Manyara, Lindi and Mtwara. Mr Mgallah said the programme will enable smallholder farmers and small-scale processors to bargain for better terms in sunflower value chain.

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