Dar es Salaam — Sesame growers are benefiting from the crop cultivation, thanks to a Farm Africa project.
"I used to harvest 70 kilos of sesame per acre, but nowadays I get 340 kilos per acre," attests Babati farmer and trader Cecilia Mada.
Recently, she participated in a two-day forum on the crop growing.
She applauded Farm Africa for improving community members' lives.
The meeting, organised by Farm Africa, attracted farmers and traders from Manyoni, Babati, Kilwa and Bahi districts as well as officials from the Agriculture Seeds Agency.
Farm Africa supports growers to increase their incomes, nutrition and food security by improving agricultural practices, market linkages and business skills.
The initiative has so far reached over 11,000 people in the areas.
Farm Africa organised the forum as part of the sesame value chain programme, funded by Comic Relief, in collaboration with partners like Inades Tanzania, Cosita and the smallholder farmer network (Mviwata).
The project helps farmers to learn entrepreneurship skills.
It helps them to access quality seeds, training in the best agricultural techniques, teaching farmers the best ways to harvest, linking them with large-scale buyers who will pay a fair price as well as training them on how to add value.
"Sesame is increasingly becoming a popular and profitable cash crop," noted Ms Angelina Boniface from Manyoni in Singida. Mr Juma Nassoro, also from Manyoni, said: "With at least 340 kilos of sesame I harvest per acre, my income has risen. I have also bought a processing machine and got a building plot in Dodoma." He plans to expand the farming area and add sesame value.
The forum was also attended by Agriculture minister Charles Tizeba who encouraged farmers and traders to increase investment in sesame agribusiness generate more income and create employment.
He reiterated the importance of farmer membership in cooperative unions.
Tanzania is a leading global sesame exporter.
In 2016, it exported 133,752 tonnes of the crop worth $129 million.
Farm Africa is said to have invested about Sh1 billion in supporting the sesame farmers and they produced sesame worth Sh15 billion during the three-year period.