Tabora seems to be on the fast track to become another cotton producing region in Tanzania.
The project is being implemented through the Cotton Victoria Project (CVP) which according to officials is already registering success in Tanzania.
Through the initiative, farmers are gradually increasing their production volumes from the previous 200 kilograms per acre to the current 500 kilos in an acre and counting.
Tabora farmers are setting the average region’s target of harvesting an average of 1,200 kilograms per acre.
With such an impressive trend, Tabora is now being considered to be another potential zone for cotton production in Tanzania.
The Urambo District Administrative Secretary, Innocent Nsena, explained that plans are underway to seriously develop cotton to make the cash crop the region’s white gold.
Nsena was speaking during the ‘Cotton Technologies Farmers Field Day’ (CTFFD), held at Usisya Village of Urambo District in Tabora Region.
Apparently the Cotton Victoria Project is seen as the ultimate vehicle to transport Tabora into the anticipated special zone for churning out the fluffy staple fibre.
Executed under the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), through its Mwanza-based Ukiriguru Centre, the Cotton Victoria Project on the other hand, is a partnership between Brazil, Tanzania, Kenya, and Burundi.
Cotton Victoria aims at boosting the institutional capacity and human resources empowerment through the application and dissemination of technology in the cotton production sector.
Tabora Region’s agricultural officer, Saidi Babu said the crop flourishes well in at least six districts of the region, including Igunga, Nzega, Uyui, Tabora municipal, Urambo and Kaliuwa.
Tobacco, which has been Tabora’s bedrock cash crop, has been facing a number of stumbling blocks in recent years especially challenges faced in marketing it amid global health concerns.
There is also the issue of environment destruction because growing tobacco goes along with deforestation as thousands of trees need to be chopped to provide fuel for drying the leaves.
Dr Furaha Mrosso, is the Acting Director for Research and Innovation at TARI, who doubles as the Manager for Crop Research and Post-harvest Management.
According to Mrosso the institute will continue partnering with diverse stakeholders to help improve performance of the cotton production industry in the region.
The Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture, the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC), the Brazilian Cotton Institute (IBA), the Federal University of Lavras (UFLA), the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI-Ukiriguru) and the Tanzania Cotton Board (TCB) are all working in partnership to realize the goal.
The Director of Ukiriguru Center of TARI, Dr Paul Saidia, said over USD 5.8 million has been invested in the project to cover among other things, training manpower and technical assistance.
The center has also been hatching demonstration plots to assist thousands of local cotton growers striving to improve their crop management and increase farm outputs.
Ngaga Luhemeja, a local farmer in the area said the project has assisted him to improve yield at his plantation from 200 kilograms to 510 kilograms per acre.
Jennifer Kabaka, agricultural officer in the department of crops development at the ministry of agriculture, said the ministry will continue to work with TARI, cotton board as well as the development partners to ensure there’s enough quality seeds and proper technology.
Cotton is among the most valued cash crops in Tanzania.
It is an industry employing 500,000 farmers in 17 regions and 56 districts where a total of 1,000,000 acres of land have been placed under its production.
Tanzania’s cotton production stands between 122,000 tons and 370,000 tons per year.