Demand for edible oils in Tanzania is forecasted to shoot up and reach 700,000 metric tons by the year 2030.
Tanzania meanwhile produces 290,000 Metric Tons of edible oils, mostly the sunflower-based ones, which mean the country must import another 420,000 metric tons to satisfy the local market demand.
Tanzania, on the other hand, is among the top-ten countries in the world as far as sunflower production is concerned.
The country tops the bill in East Africa and takes the second position in Africa.
The Global Agriculture Food Security Program (GAFSP) indicates that sunflower is the sub-sector with highest potential investments opportunities in Tanzania.
However, production of the crop which contributes to nearly 70 percent of all edible oil produced in the country has remained low due to several factors, including challenges in availability of improved seed varieties with high oil content.
The Tanzania Agricultural Seed Agency (ASA) intends to distribute more than 1,600 tons of the subsidized sunflower seeds during the new planting season.
The Chief Executive Officer for the state seeds agency, Dr Sophia Kashenge said the ASA will continue standing firm, and at forefront to ensure the farmers are getting the improved seeds varieties in time and at affordable prices in the government’s ongoing initiative to boost agriculture.
In ongoing efforts to accelerate availability of edible oil ASA has produced and distributed a total of 2088 tons of sunflower standard seed to the growers in 23 mainland regions.
“We have supplied quality seeds to Singida, Manyara, Dodoma, Kilimanjaro, Katavi, Morogoro, Simiyu, Mara and Shinyanga,” Dr Kashenge revealed.
Other regions that received ASA kernels include Kilimanjaro and Rukwa. Others, according to her, include Songwe, Iringa, Ruvuma, Tabora, Njombe, Mtwara, Lindi, Mbeya, Costal, Kigoma, Katavi, Tanga and Shinyanga.
Dr Kashenge reveals that the total demand of sunflower seed in the country is around 5,252 Metric Tons.
Her agency was meanwhile capable of producing an average of 400 metric tons per given season.
“The deficit is big but ASA following the government directives, has so far managed to boost production and reach 2088 tons of Standards sunflower seeds to decrease the gap,” she explains.
In another development, The Tanzania Agricultural Seed Agency has terminated contract with its one and only monopoly kernels agent in Dodoma City.
But that is not all; the Tanzania Agricultural Seed Agency (ASA) management has also whisked the agency firm, Wema Agrovet to security organs for reportedly swindling local farmers.
Wema Agrovet, the Dodoma-based seed distributor is being alleged to be selling to growers the state subsidized sunflower seeds at hefty and unauthorized prices.
The farm input distributing company proprietor Wema Seth, has been arrested in connection with the alleged misconduct.
Wema Agrovet has been enjoying monopoly of being the only seed dealer for the state-owned seed agency in the Capital City of Dodoma.
The Agrovet was discovered to be selling to the farmers the 2 kilogram package of the subsidized sunflower seeds at 15,000/- contrary to the indicative prices of 10,000/- .
The ASA Marketing Manager Edward Mbugi the government was issuing sunflower seeds at subsidized prices so as to enable more farmers to access improved varieties to help improve production and productivity.
He reveals that Agency sell packages of the sunflower record seeds varieties to its agents at wholesale prices of 4,500/- per one kilogram, whereas the retail charges per kilogram should be 5000/-
“Farmer must make sure, the seeds are sold in the specially sealed ASA‘s packages bearing labels indicating that the seeds have been subsidized, and the price should not in any way exceed the referral figures.”
The Planning Officer at the Ministry of Agriculture Timotheo Semuguraka who went to buy the seeds at one of the Wema Agrovet outlets encountered the ballooned prices and reported the matter to ASA.
Benjamin Mfupe is the coordinator for the provision of subsidy sunflower seeds varieties, at the Agriculture Seed Agency who pointed out that the distributor was also issuing counterfeit receipts after each transaction.
“We intend to embark on countrywide crackdown to inspect all farm inputs distributing agencies that still take advantages of the farmers’ craving for quality seeds by selling the same at rip-off prices,” he added.