PALM oil producers in the country may now have a reason to smile after the government's decision to disburse about 1.4bn/- to Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) as budget support to increase production.
Among other things, the money is also intended to support the state- owned institution to research and produce enough palm oil seedlings to farmers and inculcate in extension officers and farmers agronomic skills to cultivate the cash crop professionally.
Ever since the government decided to embark on large-scale production of palm oil in the country to increase crude oil production, TARI was tasked to research, produce and distribute the key crop's seedlings to farmers, with TARI- Kihinga and TARI- Ilonga centres picked to coordinate it.
During an interview with 'Daily News', the national coordinator for palm oil research in Tanzania, Dr Filson Kagimbo, said the focus was to produce 5,000,000 seedlings annually.
"We appreciate the government on starting issuing the money which will enable us to conduct activities timely and efficiently," he said.
Dr Kagimbo, who doubles as Director of TARI- Kihinga Centre, however, said there was a need for the government to think of increasing relevant budget allocations to have the much-needed strategy to fetch intended results.
He noted that as of June 20, this year, the centre had already produced 1,805,868 seedlings, which sufficed to cover 36,117 acres.
"Currently, we have more than 800,000 seedlings, whereby the annual target is to produce at least 1.2 million palm oil seedlings," he said.
For his part, palm oil researcher for the Eastern Zone Frank Reuben said at least 76,000 palm oil seedlings had so far been produced to Morogoro- based TARI- Ilonga Centre.
"The centrer's focus is to produce 200,000 seedlings in six months to be distributed to farmers in Morogoro, Tanga and Coast regions," he asserted.
He said demand for palm oil seedlings kept on increasing as more farmers in the country wanted to cultivate the crop.
Lack of improved palm oil seed varieties and awareness on best practices among farmers and agricultural officers weakens the performance of the vital sub- sector.
Statistics show that Tanzania imports 365,000 metric tonnes of edible oil annually which costs the government at least 443bn/-.
Palm oil is the most consumed edible oil in Tanzania due to its widespread availability and cost- effectiveness.
In 2016, domestic edible oil consumption was estimated to be 570,000MT, 64 per cent, of it being palm oil, 30 per cent sunflower and 2 per cent cottonseed oil