Tanzanian farmers test sunflowers
Recently, Agrics has been handing out sunflower seeds to 1.250 farmers in the Northern part of Tanzania, to enable these farmers to test this new crop. The harvest of sunflower seeds, and more importantly, its oilseeds, offers great potential for the development of this region. In order to enable farmers to acquaintance themselves with the new crop, Agrics, in cooperation with Farm Africa, has supplied farmers with a one-off quantity of free seeds that is sufficient to cover approximately one hundred square meter of soil. Besides the seeds, Agrics also offers these farmers an agricultural training focusing on sunflowers.
According to tradition, farmers tend to choose edible crops such as maize, a choice easily defendable. However, due to the amount of farmers growing maize, the market is highly over served, causing the crop to have become hardly profitable. Consequently, besides growing an edible crop, farmers could very well benefit from growing a so called ‘cash crop’, a crop that allows the farmer to generate an income.
Currently, palm oil is one of the most imported products in Tanzania. This, despite the fact that sunflower oil is healthier and less harmful for the environment than palm oil, and the excellent climate conditions for sunflower cultivation in the East-African country. Other advantages of sunflowers are its relatively easy growth, the fact that they need little water, less fertilizer than most crops, and are perfectly suitable for being intercropped with maize or another food crop.
Agrics supplies farmers in Tanzania with certified seeds on credit. These quality seeds ensure a significant improvement of the farmer’s harvest. In cooperation with Farm Africa and the local manufacturing industry, Agrics wants to acquaintance farmers with sunflowers and within the next couple of years, have tested the possibilities of commercial sunflower cultivation for smallholder farmers, doing so by offering them incentive and support.