We believe agriculture has a great opportunity to stimulate sustainable development in the country, now, we learn about performance, quality and benefits of new sunflower hybrid seeds.
Agricultural sector has improved its contribution to GDP up to 30.1 percent in 2017 compared to 29.2 percent in 2016. Agricultural produce are the most important raw materials into current industrial agenda since it contributes up to 65 percent of raw materials needed in processing industries.
Sunflower is one of the most important oil producing products, sunflower seeds that provide quality cooking oil, guaranteed income and cake that is used in production of animal feeds. It is good for people to be healthy by consuming sunflower cooking oil to avoiding diseases while raising farmers’ income in the country.
Production of sunflower seeds has grown from about 3.1 million tons in 2016/17 to about 3.2 million tons in 2017/18, with expected growth of sunflower production up to 3.3 million tons in 2018/2019, an average of about 100,000 tons per year
Government aims to promote sunflower production from 3,112,500 tons in 2016/2017 to 9,337,500 tons by 2021/22 and increase production from 1.5 tons per hectare to 3 tons.
To achieve this, some key constraints which were holding back the development of this sub-sector such as continued use of poor seeds and unavailability of other key farming services need to be unlocked.
The following are some of characteristics of improved seeds or hybrid seeds;
- New hybrid seeds are tolerant to inadequate rains,
- Can be planted on all type of soil,
- Have high oil content ,
- Enough sunflower cake and
- It ensures smallholder farmers with maximum production and productivity, however they can’t be re-planted.
Sunflower sub-sector can stimulate the establishment of small scale industries or factories for processing sunflower seeds in various areas.
With over 800 small, medium and large sunflower processing factories, they have a total capacity of processing 3,000 metric tons of seeds per day, but they can hardly get 500 Metric tons. At the moment, they produce 210,000 metric tons of sunflower oil per year but their goal is to produce 420,000 tons per year, this production deficit is a great opportunity for sunflower farmers.
Established by the Governments of Denmark, Ireland and Sweden, Agricultural Markets Development Trust (AMDT) aims to stimulate the private sector to invest in supplying improved seed varieties, while also encouraging the public sector through responsible research institutes to invest in developing the breeding capacity for new Hybrid seed varieties in the longer term.
Currently, the majority of farmers use the so called open-pollinated (OPV) seed varieties, which have been around for a long time, thereby losing their original production potential and other important seeds characteristics.
However, as a nice market, sunflower can be produced with principles of organic farming which is sustainable, environmental friendly and doesn’t have too many production costs. A good example is in Bahi district in Dodoma, where there are many sunflower organic farmers and they expect abundant yields and an assured market this season.
Higher oil content present in sunflower hybrid seeds will benefit processors because of oil percentage comparing to production of other traditional seeds variety. Processors are willing to offer best prices for farmers who use new hybrid seeds, this will lead to improving of the sunflower farmers’ lives.
It’s important to promote and ensuring small producers have access to new hybrid seeds especially in areas with high sunflower production like Dodoma, Singida, Rukwa, Mtwara and Songwe, Iringa, Manyara and Rukwa
Public and private partnerships is crucial in ensuring sustainable agricultural market systems develop, various agricultural stakeholders, government, private sector and development partners strive to make sure that there are up to 6 type of hybrid seeds in market by 2021, this will address the issue of seeds availability and its access by small farmers at affordable prices. .
Smallholder farmers are advised to be more aware of not only the good farming methods, but also the best practices for post-harvest handling techniques such as proper drying up to 8 percent moisture, since not properly dried seeds may affect final oil extracted.
Youth are encouraged to grab numerous of opportunities present in this sub-sector, by forming economic groups to have one voice and take advantage of collective selling and bulk input and service and buying.
Success stories from Sunflower farmers
“Before the introduction of sunflower farming, we used to cultivate sesame, groundnuts, maize, cassava etc. Passion about sunflower farming came due to knowledge and experience I received through village demo plot, As a lead farmer, I started farming and motivated others to engage in sunflower farming because it was unpopular crop here in Masasi. I planted NSFH 36 hybrid seeds on 2-5 March 2018, weeding was done after 2 weeks and today, the 23rd May 2018, sunflower is ready for harvest, it’s almost 80 days only, this is great experience for me” said Rajabu, 58
“Before the introduction of sunflower, we used to be idle in March to May every year because during that time we would be done with cashewnut season. Now, we are busy with sunflower farming because sunflower sector has potential for growth in here, Profit gained will be used to expand my farm size under sunflower, pay school fees and to carter for other family matters.” Said Rajabu ,58
“NSFH seed is drought tolerant with guaranteed maximum production, My fellow farmers whom we planted together, they are yet to harvest sunflower, but I have already harvested, processed and I have reaped fruits of my work. Previously, I used to harvest 1 bag in 1 acre, but this season,I got 12 bags in 1 acre because I planted new hybrid seeds, I must thank my cooperative Tuungane High Class group, for enabling the demo plot where we have increased knowledge on hybrid seeds, Hybrid seeds can’t be compared to our local seeds, the new seeds have big heads similar to a big food plate, and upon planting their germination is over 90%” said Riziki, mother of 4 children
“After harvesting, I went to process sunflower seeds eager to see what volume of oil I would get, I travelled to Makambako town (50 kilometers) to process seeds due to presence of quality machines ,I was very happy to get 17 gallons (20litres each) and sold them all right there for Tsh 70,000 each gallon. I walked away with Tsh 1.2 Million, we have agreed with my husband to use the money to pay school fees for our 4 children” said Riziki
“My advice to fellow youth is to enter into sunflower farming, Agribusiness is one of the solutions to unemployment more youth should engage with farming rather than staying idle, you can practice sunflower farming and be able to earn income. If I can do farming, I don’t see why fellow youth especially female youth should hesitate to engage with sunflower farming” said Rose, 21
“Last season, I planted more than 3 acres and got 4 bags because of local seeds used but I have seen this new hybrid seeds’ performance at our demo plot which is totally different to local seeds in terms of early maturity, drought resistance and yields. I expect next season to plant new hybrid seeds in 5 acres where yields will reach more than 50 bags, this will boost my earnings as a youth” said Pascal,20
“At present, we provide crop insurance on sunflower farming in Iringa, Njombe, Singida, Dodoma and Mbeya regions. Insurance is crucial because farmers are seriously affected by drought, pests, floods and other crop diseases which all these are risks to crop production, So, through working with insurance, farmers are confident to be covered for the invested capital, Consequently, smallholder farmers will be able to pay for insurance because they will have disposable income” said Priscilla, agriculture insurer
“AYEGRO will conduct soil testing in Singida and Dodoma regions, we will test and recommend farmers about soil condition of their farms to embark sunflower farming with business mind where productivity matters. In ensuring our business is sustained, we have planned to open new office in Singida in order to be closer to farmers . Also, as we reach more farmers, costs for soil test will be reduced by 30% , so that farmers can afford these important services, The increasing demand for soil testing is assuring us a sustainable environment for healthy business between AYEGRO and farmers who are our main customers” said Peter
“To ensuring sustainable business, we plan to reach more farmers through local agents or agro-dealers present closer to farmers in order for seeds to reach farmers all the time with affordable prices, We will increase consignment of seeds to be distributed on reaching more farmers in several areas. We are committed to serve farmers through local agents and increase supply of seeds in order for farmers to get good yields, this will ensure the flourishing of our business while continuing motivating farmers to plant new sunflower hybrid seeds, Seed distribution channels will be improved in ensuring good seed prices and reaching farmers in remote areas timely” said David, seed supplier