A senior Seeds Researcher and Country Coordinator of Strengthening Agriculture Research and Development (SARD) project, Dr Rose Mongi, has affirmed that despite the sizeable arable land for growing wheat in the country, yet farmers harvest 100,000 tonnes of wheat while actual demand stands at 1,000,000 tonnes yearly.
Dr Mongi further said that due to poor harvest of wheat in the country, the government had been compelled to spend large amounts of foreign currency for importing 90 per cent of the cereal grain from foreign countries to meet the actual demand of the produce in the country each year.
She noted that there was no reason for the country to import wheat from foreign markets as the country has been endowed with huge arable terrain for growing the cereal grain.
Dr Mongi stressed the point during different occasions when she visited and inspected wheat growers in Sumbawanga Municipality, Nkasi and Sumbawanga District in Rukwa Region whose SARD project took off officially in the areas two years ago.
Dr Mongi insisted that the foreign currency the country used to import wheat would instead be used for the implementation of various development projects in the country.
Latest research reports reveal that there are about 800 different varieties of wheat seeds, which can grow well and result in bumper harvests in different parts of the country.
“While the African continent spends over 40 billion US dollars for importing 70 per cent of wheat from other continents … the situation is worse in Tanzania as it spends colossal amount of foreign currency to import the same as farmers realise only 100,000 tonnes of wheat while the actual demand annually stands at 1,000,000 tonnes,” she noted.
Another Senior Seeds Researcher, Dr Solomon Asefa from Ethiopia, insisted that government should enforce good agriculture policy and by and large effectively make use of agriculture researchers to realise and export to the foreign markets bumper surplus of the food crop.
“It is paramount that the government put in place good and applicable agriculture policy as well as make use of researchers to the maximum to ensure bumper harvests of wheat yearly to meet the actual demand and sell abroad its bumper surplus as well as creating employments in the country,” added Dr Asefa.
On his part, the Uyole Agriculture Research Institute’s Director, Dr Zacharia Malley, said that since the introduction of the SARD project in Rukwa Region, farmers have increased wheat production ten-folds per acre.
“I m one of beneficiaries of the SARD project as now I harvest between 16 and 18 bags of 100 kgs of wheat from an acre of farmland compared to two bags of wheat I used to harvest from the same farmland,” said Mr Martin Claudio from Kalundi Village in Nkasi District in the region.
A cross-section of wheat growers in Rukwa Region have expressed their deep concern over the challenges they are facing, including lack of modern agricultural tools, such as combined harvesters.
Credit: All Africa