TANZANIA has embarked on an ambitious plan to increase production of oil seeds to address the recurrent shortage of edible oil.
This will not only increase crop production and consumption, but also create both the local and international markets.
The use of improved seeds and empowering farmers in modern farming methods are among the strategies implemented in various seed oil producing areas in the country. Oil seeds are produced in almost all regions in the country.
The major sources of edible oil in Tanzania are sunflower, palm, groundnuts, sesame, soya beans and cotton.
This shows there is the likelihood to produce more edible oil for domestic consumption and export, but traditional farming methods have been a stumbling-block in this regard.
For example, Tanzania is the leading producer of coconut in Africa, but still its initiatives to develop and increase production does not benefit its farmers.
The government has been encouraging farmers to grow modern seed varieties and apply good methods to boost production and generate more incomes for improved living standards.
To ensure the sustainability of the edible oil sub-sector, the use of improved seeds, inputs, and appropriate agronomic practices would guarantee farmers better yields, resistance to pests as well as drought and herbicide tolerance are extremely important.
Frequent farmers' training in better agricultural technologies to cultivate oil seeds is needed to help seal production gaps.
Furthermore, to protect and foster production of edible oil, the government has been imposing some tariffs to discourage imports.
This is in line with the country's edible oil strategy 2016/20. Tanzania imports nearly 50 per cent of its edible oil while demand stands at between 200,000 and 300,000 tonnes per year, portraying a wide domestic market and an apparent potential development of the cooking oil industry.
With demand forecast to increase from 500,000 to 700,000 tonnes by 2030, Tanzania guarantees a growing market for investors for the foreseeable future.
This is for local investors' unique opportunity to grab and invest in edible oil production that guarantees reliable readymade markets.
Boosting edible oil production in the country has a huge multiplier effects on both saving use of the country's foreign exchange on imports as well improved living standards to smallholder farmers by guaranteeing reliable markets.
Therefore, increased investment and thus the transformation of the oil seeds industry will not only relieve the government of the burden of importation, but also improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the country.