DETERMINED to boost the economy among sorghum farmers, the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) has embarked on research which will answer challenges retarding increased sorghum productivity in the country.
According to TARI researcher Mr Andekelile Mwamahonje, farmers were in good position of maximising productivity per unit area and earning, however, major challenges facing them were among others lack of access to improved seeds, access to market and not expanding farms.
"My study has established that sorghum farmers' capacity to produce more crops is hampered by reliance on seeds rather than buying the improved which is recommended by researchers, cultivation of small areas rather than expanding farms as the crop is tolerant to drought stress," The researcher told the reporter recently.
Other factors hindering the crop farming, according to him, were those pertaining to weak farming methods on small farms among 1,112,487 farmers in the country who end up producing an average of around 796,570 tonnes of sorghum a year.
"Soil infertility is one of the hindrances in Dodoma, Singida, Simiyu, Shinyanga, Tabora and Mwanza regions and birds which damage sorghum while still in the farm,".
Mwamahonje described failure to access the market as another reason for lower productivity. Sorghum is used for human food, animal feed and beer production. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) there are around 1,112, 487 people who were directly engaged in growing sorghum in the year 2017.
NBS also uncovers that Dodoma region took the lion's share by cultivating 257,690 ha; planted with sorghum which is equated to 31.0 per cent of the country's total production. Singida region follows with 98,263 ha; or 12.0 per cent and Simiyu region 76,619 ha; 9.2 per cent.
Sorghum is also farmed in Zanzibar with a total planted area of 758 hectares. Explaining on the potentiality of sorghum production in the country, Mr Mwamahonje said that Tanzania, which stood at 18 number of producer of the Crop, topped the list among East African Member States.
It is followed by Southern Sudan which harvests 700, 000 tonnes a year, Uganda emerges 3rd with 400 thousand tonnes and Kenya produces 200, 000 tonnes, Mwamahonje said.
The Acting Director of Knowledge Management at the Commission of Science and Technology (COSTECH) Dr Philbert Luhunga said that efforts are in place to have Sorghum growers and other famers in the country to be enlightened with scientific research outcomes.
This, according to him, will see farmers in the country channeling their resources to reap more crops and maximise harvests for their economic wellbeing