4 February 2013

Tanzania: Irrigation Will Revolutionise Agriculture in the Country

GETTING out of his car con fidently, the tall, lanky young man heads towards the well cultivated farm, and with obvious expertise on display, he proceeds to inspect the young water melons which have started to sprout.

The farm lying on several acres of land has long, black tubes, with a thickness of a grown man's finger, which are spread evenly across the farmland. I came to learn later that they are used for irrigation purposes. Innocent Mbelwa, at only 28 years, has great ambitions in farming, but had it not been for his determination, he was on the verge of giving up hope; luck had nothing to do with it.

"When we started farming, we could manage to cover only a small piece of land, because we had to rely on manpower for watering the crops, and it was a tedious and tiresome work," he says. There are several factors affecting the agriculture sector. First of all agriculture heavily relies on rain and therefore unfavourable weather results in poor harvest. What started as a dream project is slowly taking shape, and with enthusiasm ringing in his voice, Mbelwa is ready to take on all challenges facing them.

The founding member of Tin Wax Investment in Kigamboni in Dar es Salaam, Mbelwa and his ten partners faced challenges before they could get a breakthrough, when they had to cultivate less than two acres of land. "There were only four of us when we started, and because the job required a lot of manpower, all of us had to get actively involved in all the processes of taking care of the farm, and sometimes were forced to hire extra help, but that was before Wezeshwa na Safari Lager programme came into the picture," he says.

Wezeshwa na Safari Lager is a programme introduced by Tanzania Breweries Limited(TBL) through its brand Safari Lager. The purpose of this programme is to empower young entrepreneurs who are interested to grow their small businesses into profitable and sustainable enterprises. Mbelwa took the initiative to apply for the programme, which Tshs. 200 million worth of grant funding at stake from TBL and his main concern was to be able to get an irrigation system for their farm.

They were overjoyed when it was announced that Tin Wax Investment were part winners of the 200 million grant and were to be awarded a modern irrigation system for their farm. This was to go hand in hand with a one week business training course. "After that, things started moving, and from the less than two acres we were cultivating, we expanded and we are now farming on 13 acres of land," he says proudly.

Now the group, apart from growing water melons, is also growing carrots, onions, cucumbers and bell peppers (pilipili hoho) and have a ready market for their freshly grown vegetable. On the other side of the city, 26 year old Elizabeth Chami, a local baker in Tabata, Dar es Salaam is one happy lady, after TBL handed over a large brand new oven which she requested through the Wezeshwa na Safari Lager programme.

Operating using old and outdated equipment in her bakery business, Elizabeth always had a dream of owning a modern oven that will help her to bake bread and pastries in large quantities quickly. After her father saw the Wezeshwa na Safari Lager programme advertisment in the newspapers, Elizabeth took the bold step of applying and requesting for a modern baking oven, and when she won the competition and her request was granted, she was thrilled.

"I could not believe it when I was called by TBL and told that I was among the few lucky winners, and when the oven was delivered to me, I knew it was the beginning of greater things," she says. She says that before getting the new oven, she was using old charcoal stoves which are not special for baking, saying that this slowed her down because it took more time to keep up with her clients.

Currently, she is in the process of looking for a new larger location for her bakery because, thanks to her new oven, increase number of newly employed staff and demand for her baked goods has outgrown the current location. Meanwhile, the Managing Director of L and V Integrated Firm, Valerian Luzangi, 38, is counting his blessings too, he won 15,000 plastic bottles for his business from Wezeshwa na Safari Lager programme.

Based in Mikocheni in Dar es Salaam, Luzangi is an entrepreneur who has established a small factory where he specializes in manufacturing two different kinds of shampoo for humans and dogs. With the availability of packaging material presenting a challenge, he decided to try his luck and apply for the Wezeshwa programme, where he requested for plastic bottles. His request was granted, and 15,000 bottles were promptly hauled to his factory, and immediately his production numbers rapidly increased and he hired new employees to be able to keep up with the growing business.

"I used to produce and sell about 40 cartons of shampoo a day every day, but after getting the new bottles, now I can produce more than 100 cartons every day, and I know I can do even more," he says. The Safari Lager Wezeshwa programme is on again this year, forms are out and deadline for returning the forms is 01 March 2013.

Forms can be collected at TBL offices, TBL wholesale distributors, or downloaded from the Safari Lager Wezeshwa website; www.wezeshwa.co.tz.

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