TANZANIA – Tanzanian prime minister Kassim Majaliwa has advocated for boosting the cultivation and production of palm oil in a bid to halt the importation cost of edible oil which costs the country TSH470bn (US$201M) every year.
Giving the directive, Kassim directed the Regional Commissioners (RCs), District Commissioners (DCs), and leaders of political parties to use their platforms in promoting the cultivation of oil palm.
Kassim was addressing palm oil stakeholders including farmers, seedling producers, palm oil producers, village leaders, financial institutions leaders, districts, and council leaders during a meeting in the Kigoma region.
This directive comes after the government took deliberate steps to include the palm oil crop in the list of strategic crops, besides others like cotton, tobacco, coffee, cashews, tea, sisal, grapes, and sunflowers.
Tanzania imports 55.4% of local demand
According to him, the country imports 55.4% of the local demand which amounts to 360,000 tonnes.
Speaking on the demand for cooking oil in the country, the Prime Minister said: “Right now the demand for cooking oil in the country is more than 650,000 tonnes annually while the production is estimated at only 290,000 tonnes.
“Palm oil is an opportunity to bring industries here in Kigoma and other regions that will cultivate this crop,” We need the import money to be used for the country’s development,” he stressed.
The Kigoma Region accounts for more than 80 percent of the palm oil produced in the country. Kassim said that the region has the potential to make Tanzania one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of the crop due to its fertile soils and weather.
The meeting was also aimed at discussing the challenges facing farmers engaged in the cultivation of the crop, and ways to ensure the country has a sufficient amount of palm oil; a move that Mr. Majaliwa said will help the nation to avoid importing large amounts of edible oil.
He also said that the production of palm oil will bring employment opportunities through the factories that will be opened in the respective regions.
High-yield palm seed developed
On his side, Anthony Mavunde, the Deputy Minister for Agriculture, said that the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) and other private companies have come up with the production of quality palm seeds called TENERA, which produce oil three times more than the DURA type which is used by approximately 90 percent of farmers
“Until January 2023, TARI in collaboration with a private company has produced a total of 14.14 million seeds, where out of the figure some 11.59 million seeds have been produced by TARI alone and 2.54 million seeds by private companies including FELISA, NDF, and Yangu Macho Group Ltd,” he noted.
Elaborating, he added that out of the 14.14 million seeds that were produced, 9.60 million seeds have been distributed to various institutions including JKT and Prisons, and all eight councils in Kigoma Region.
He further added that until January 2023, a total of 3,122,566 seedlings were sourced out of which, some 1,968,087 seedlings were distributed to farmers inside and outside Kigoma Region.