TANZANIA – The Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) has received Tsh.1.4bn/- (US$603,900) from the government to boost production of palm oil in the country.

TARI was established to enhance the strengthening of agricultural research system and activities conducted by the National Agricultural Research System (NARS).

The fund is aimed to facilitate research and production of sufficient oil palm seedlings for distribution to farmers, as well as disseminating the needed agronomic practices to cultivate the cash crop professionally.

The seedlings will be distributed by TARI- Kihinga and TARI- Ilonga centres, reports Daily News.

According to reports by Tanzania Investment Centre, the country’s edible oil sector is worth Tshs.676.2 billion (US$294 million) with players like Bidco Oil and Soap Ltd, Murzah Oil Mills and Alaska Tanzania.

The sector is highly in need of investors to fill the supply gap that currently stands at 320,000 tonnes so as to slash the import bill that amounted to Tshs.191.3 billion (US$83.19 million) in 2018.

The country`s annual demand for edible oil is 500,000 tonnes and annual supply is 180,000 tonnes leaving the country with no choice but to import the remaining 320,000 tonnes.

This is set to worsen as demand is forecasted to grow to 700,000 tonnes by 2030.

With the funding acquired, the immediate focus for the institution is to produce a total of 5,000,000 seedlings annually.

“We appreciate the government for dishing out the money, which is now enabling us to conduct activities on time and more efficiently,” said National coordinator for palm oil research in Tanzania, Dr Filson Kagimbo.

Dr Kagimbo, who doubles as director for TARIKihinga centre, however, expressed the need for the government to think of increasing relevant budget allocations to the sector in order to have the much-needed strategy to fetch the intended results.

He said the initiative requires a serious financial muscle to allow thorough researches, innovations, seedling production as well as training farmers and extension officers.

Lack of enough improved oil palm seed varieties and poor awareness of best practices among farmers and agricultural officers stands among factors weakening the performance of the vital sub-sector.

Palm oil is the most consumed edible oil in Tanzania due to its widespread availability and cost-effectiveness. The other major sources of edible oil in the country are sunflower, palm, groundnuts, sesame, soya beans and cotton.

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