Mwanga District Council (MDC) is set to revamp its ailing economy by mobilizing farmers to begin growing drought-resistant crops like sorghum, and stop clinging to growing only their traditional maize crop, which is liable to adverse weather.

The District Executive Director (DED), Mr Willy Njau, said that eight villages have been earmarked for cultivation of sorghum and other drought resistant crops. The villages were Kigonigoni, Mbambua, Kiverenge, Kisangara, Kivisini, Kwanyange, Kwakoa and Lembeni.

“Sorghum cultivation will be on contract between the Moshi-based Dunia Trust and INCRISALT Africa Office located in Nairobi, which will buy the crops from farmers exclusively and supply the same to brewery plants in Tanzania,” he said. Mr Njau said some 1.5 tonnes of sorghum seeds had already been distributed to farmers and extension experts from the two contractors, who were in the district to ensure that farmers produce sorghum of the highest quality to fetch attractive prices.

He also revealed that MDC, in collaboration with research centres based at Tengeru in Arusha region and Naliendele in Mtwara would cross-breed cassava variety to get the best type to be cultivated in higher and lower areas of Mwanga District. “Cassava seeds are currently being raised on a 2-acre piece of land at Kigonigoni village.

The seedlings will thereafter be distributed to villagers for replanting in their farms,” he said in an impassioned plea to farmers to stop forthwith the habit of growing maize because the crop was not drought-resistant. Mr Njau was optimistic that cultivation of cassava and sorghum would be in full swing after three years from now.

He added that an investor from Arusha – Building Africa — had agreed to supply seeds of avocado to farmers in Mwanga who will harvest the crop after three years from now. The investor would buy all avocados harvested. Farmers should therefore not worry because the crop will have a readily available market.

Sugar cane out-growers will also be mobilized to step up cane cultivation. Produced cane will be sold on contractual basis, to the recently launched Kilimanjaro Bio-Chem, an entity located in Mwanga district, he said. The company needed enough molasses as a raw material to brew spirit, he added.

Currently, the plant procures molasses from TPC Limited and Mtibwa, which was insufficient to meet its actual needs. “Apart from these economic reforms, plans were afoot to guide villagers to improve dairy and coffee farming through adoption of scientific methods to raise their income and welfare,” Mr Njau said. The DED added that it was projected that per capita income of the area will be raised from the current 684,000/- to 810,000/- a year by 2015.

By PETER TEMBA, Tanzania Daily News

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