Production of rice has increased by 644.72 per cent in the past four years at Mbeya's Kapunga Rice Irrigation Farms project, as senior official with the project has said. A private firm, Export Trading Company, is currently manning the privatised farms.
The farms' public relations officer, Mr Ramadhani Tarishi, told visiting journalists on Tuesday that rice production had gone up from 284 tonnes in 2005/2006 harvesting season to 2,115 tonnes in 2008/2009. The production is projected to increase four-fold to reach 8,500 tonnes this harvesting season.
In a statement made available to press in Dar es Salaam yesterday, Mr Tarishi attributed the increased production to Sh10 billion worth of capital injected into the project by the private investor in the past few years," he said. The state-owned National Agricultural Food Corporation (Nafco) operated the Kapunga Rice Farms before they were privatised to the firm. The utilised farm area was expanded from only 200 hectares to 604 hectares after the privatisation, according to Mr Tarishi.
"We have injected a lot of money into the project to revamp the farms whose operations were almost standstill by the time we took them over from Nafco," Mr Tarishi said. The investor, he said, had spent $56,000 on rehabilitation of the main water intake at the farms and another $40,000 on reviving infrastructure of the farms' irrigation scheme. Mr Tarish added that the company had spent $480,000 on repairing the irrigation scheme channels and $960, 000 on construction of roads within the scheme.
He said bout $240, 000 was spent on the re-construction of the project's buildings, including staff quarters, $2.3 million on purchasing new equipment, $2.3million on acquiring new irrigation technologies and another $560,000 on repairing a milling plant.
"There are other costs which are still being compiled, but roughly, we spent over Sh10 billion in improving Kapunga Rice Irrigation Farms to this standard," he said.