MORE than 1,300 sorghum farmers have benefitted from the Tanzania Breweries Limited (TBL Plc) in collaboration with Farm to Market Alliance (FtMA) and World Food Programme (WFP)'s pilot sorghum project.
The trilateral project kicked off in January 2020 where TBL Plc agreed to purchase sorghum produced by smallholder farmers in Dodoma and Manyara regions.
TBL Plc, FtMa and WFP supported the farmers with access to sorghum seed, crop insurance, sorghum crop management protocols, agricultural extension services and improved aggregation and market access to maximise their harvest.
One of the beneficiaries, Ms Hilda Madeje, a sorghum farmer from Sagala B Village in Kongwa Region, has a reliable market to sell her 30 bags of sorghum, a yield of 70 per cent better than in previous years.
This has enabled her to earn enough money to construct a modern house for her family and pay school fees for her four children.
Ms Madeje was part of the TBL Plc, FtMA and WFP sorghum pilot project which aimed at equipping farmers with good agricultural practices, improving the yield and quality of sorghum and provide them with a guaranteed market for their produce.
Speaking during postseason assessment for the programme held in Dodoma at the weekend, TBL Agriculture Manager Joel Msechu said TBL Plc paid smallholders farmers 1.75bn/- for procuring 3,000 tonnes of sorghum produced in Mpwapwa, Kongwa, Kondoa, Bahi and Chamwino districts in Dodoma, where each kilogramme of sorghum was bought at 550/-.
"The project has had positive results and has helped to improve the livelihoods of sorghum farmers," he added. According to Mr Msechu, the company sources 74 per cent of its raw materials locally and is committed to increasing its local sourcing over the coming years.
TBL Plc looks forward to contracting 6,000 sorghum farmers for the 2020-2021 season to meet its demand of 10,000 tonnes of sorghum for the production of its fast-growing affordable brands - Eagle and Bia Bingwa. Speaking at one of the post-assessment sessions, WFP representative Lusajo Bukuku said before the project farmers produced about 3-4 bags of sorghum per acre.
However, through adopting good agricultural practices, farmers now have improved crop yield and about 10-11 bags of quality sorghum harvested per acre. Speaking on behalf of Farm Africa, Mr William Mwakyami said through the project, his organisation had built the capacity of 846 farmers who were earning more money through improved yields and a ready market.
Kongwa District acting agricultural officer Amina Msangi said before the project, farmers were facing some challenges related to market access. She urged farmers to aggressively utilise the available market. TBL Plc sourcing programmes are among the many ways in which the company makes a significant contribution to Tanzania's economy.
TBL Plc has made significant investments in supporting smallholder farmers in Tanzania with the following products and services - Kilimo Uza: a bulk SMS and USSD platform to send farmers weather, market and agronomic information, an input advance credit scheme, coupled with financial literacy training for the procurement of quality inputs and services, research trials in Tanzania for developing improved sorghum seed varieties and researchbased crop management protocols tailored to the Tanzanian context and agronomic training and support, throughout the season to instil in sustainable agronomic practices.