KILOLO District Council is formulating strategies to revive the ailing tea and coffee farms, which have remained unattended for several years.
The Council says barring any negative factors, the industry will be back to its lost glory in a few years as the district increases output to meet demand. Kilolo has drawn up a medium term strategy to put the sector back on track, targeting both small and large scale producers.
As part of the recovery strategy, Acting District Executive Director Helman Msuha said apart from reviving the old farms, the council had been sensitizing local people to invest heavily in farming. The proposal, he said, was meant to open up more economic opportunities for thousands of people who currently depend on subsistence farming, which has now been overwhelmed by many challenges.
He said currently the department of agriculture has 39 staff with different qualification including nine graduates, 22 diploma and eight certificate holders. He, however, noted that the department needed 64 members of staff. He said the district is endowed with fertile soil suitable for cultivation of different types of crops.
"Generally the district receives high and reliable amount of rainfall to support various cropping patterns. The rainfall is typical of the tropical type, and is largely bi-modal with 'short rains' in some parts, particularly Dabaga, Boma la ng'ombe, Idete and Ukwega wards in the months of September to October," he said. He, however, said crop yields at household level was still very low.
"The present records of production indicate that, the average production per hectare is 13 bags of 100 kilogrammes, while under good management the area can produce up to 60 bags of 100 kilogrammes per hectare. On the other hand, the area cultivated per household is also small ranging between 0.5 to 2 hectares," he said.
He said that Kilolo was well positioned for the two cash crops. The Director added that implementation of the idea would go hand-in-hand with the revival of a tea processing plant in the district, as one of the important requirements for tea production.
The district has one tea processing factory, which has been out of order for years due to a number of factors, including insufficient tea grown in the area. The local government will closely work with the association of small-scale tea growers to realize the idea in the district, he said.
To him, the two cash crops will scale up revenue collection to enable the district to finance its developmental projects. Incidentally, this is one of the 24 districts indicated by the Tanzania Coffee Board (TCB) as potential areas for coffee production in the country.
The idea came after realizing that effects of climate change had become more visible in Arusha and Kilimanjaro regions where for three consecutive years there has been lack of sufficient rainfall, causing coffee plants to wither and flowers to fall off before bearing beans. Other districts in Iringa region which are potential for coffee production are Iringa Rural, Mufindi, Njombe, Ludewa and Makete.