TBL set aside 5.5bn/- for Dodoma’s sorghum farmers

“Since the target is to get sorghum grains with specific tannin and quality for beer, TBL realised the need to assist the farmers…

By VALENTINE OFORO, DODOMA
THE Tanzania Breweries Limited (TBL) is expecting to spend at least 5.5bn/- to pay the sorghum farmers in different districts of Dodoma region who have entered into contract farming with the company.

At least 3000 farmers from Mpwapwa, Kongwa, Chamwino Districts, as well as Hombolo ward in Dodoma Capital City are in a special farming contract with TBL for the production of sorghum grains with needed tannin for the production of beers.

TBL Agriculture Manager for Tanzania, Joel Msechu told East Africa Herald that during the last farming season of 2020 the company had entered into contract farming with a total of 1,300 sorghum framers within the region.

“During last season the farmers cultivated at least 2, 600 hectares of sorghum to the tune of fetching a total of 1.7bn/- as part of their payments from TBL,” he revealed.

He expressed that under the useful contract, the beneficiary farmers are provided with the improved seeds, as well as trained on needed agronomic practices for the professional growth of the economic cash crop that flourishes well in central zone regions.

“Since the target is to get sorghum grains with specific tannin and quality for beer, TBL realised the need to assist the farmers in several aspects to enable them to produce the required grains,” he asserted.

According to him, apart from extending the farmers with closely extension services, the beneficiary growers are also linked with access to different loans at NMB Plc.

Through the financial institution, Msechu unveiled that the farmers were acquiring loans in terms of pesticides, fertilizers as well as modern agro machinery.

“In the coming season we’re targeting more tons of sorghum grains and that’s why TBL is now eying to attract more farmers,”

” However, apart from collecting more tons the focus is also to assist the farmers in the region to improve their livelihoods, “Msechu added.

Senior Plant Breeder at the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI- Hombolo), Dr. Lameck Nyaligwa said the centre was playing a pivotal role to ensure the farmers are in access with researched and improved sorghum seed varieties.

He said the centre was in contract with TBL for undertaking a thorough research and hence producing the sorghum hybrid seed varieties with needed gran tannin for breeding beers.

Under financial ability from the South African -based AB InBev Company at a tune of at least 11,000 USD $, Dr. Nyaligwa said the program has already seen the opening of vast hectares of Preliminary Field Trial (PFT) plantations of needed sorghum seed varieties at the state- owned centre, as well as in Kibaigwa and Kongwa district at the acreage of at least 10,000 plantations.

Among the best seed varieties which have been inverted at the centre and with the needed tannin potential for beer-making include Tegemeo, Narco 1, Masia, Hakika and Wahi.

On their side, apart from hailing TBL to help transform their livelihoods through the project, the beneficiary farmers expressed grave concern over the absence of counterfeit pesticides in the market.

They challenged the government to develop a viable mechanism to help them escape from the shackles of unscrupulous pesticides dealers.

” Sometimes we have been experiencing serious crop damages from destructive pests because the pesticides we are applying are counterfeits,” they expressed.

They observed that it would be prudent if the agriculture minister will establish special centres in rural areas where the farmers will be buying workable pesticides.

The growers also pleaded to the financial institutions to set friendly conditions for servicing their loans: “For instances, the service providers are imposing us with a short period to refund the agro machinery loans.”