SAGCOT Centre wants to hear from you, our Partners. We know there are some concerns or general curiosity about our operations as a Centre or maybe you seek general information on the realization of the SAGCOT Initiative dream. This is your opportunity to ask and have your questions answered every month. To field your general questions please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month, we have an interesting question from John Power, from the Pyrethrum Company of Tanzania (PCT).
John Power: I would be interested to know if SAGCOT is participating in any initiative to identify appropriate technology for smallholder farmers in terms of ploughing and weeding? Our farmers grow pyrethrum organically and labour is definitely a constraint. Cost-effective labour saving equipment would be a game changer.
Geoffrey Kirenga: Thank you for your question, John. I am aware of the previous attempts by Uyole Agricultural Centre in Mbeya to introduce weed killers. However, the most effective ones in those areas could also damage the leaves of the crop. There was an attempt to use a protector limiting the spread of the herbicide and effect on the plant, however, the technologies weren’t adopted due to the small number of smallholder farmers growing pyrethrum. Labour wasn’t a challenge when this was attempted 10 years ago; maybe it is time for us to revisit this once again.
The SAGCOT Centre is dedicated and responsive to our partners’ needs, and we will always explore technologies locally and outside the country to put in the hands of our farmers. For pyrethrum there hasn’t been much of a push, especially on the trading, taxation, processing, the competition in the procurement of the crop at the farmers’ level, organizing farmers and challenges in the availability of quality seedlings and promoting good agricultural practices to ensure good quantities of pyrethrum content in the pyrethrum flowers.
We still have low levels of pyrethrum production; the installed capacity of the factory in Mafinga is at about 10,000 MT per annum, which is only producing 2,400 MT per annum. Most investors who want to work with farmers on a contractual basis invest in technologies and build the capacity of farmers to increase productivity and quality of flowers, but when it comes to marketing; other buyers come in and purchase the crop they haven’t invested in. This confuses the current investors. This is something the government needs to work on with the investors to put clear procedures of operation before any investor procures flowers from the farmers.