Sorghum and finger millet field days held in Tanzania
ICRISAT in collaboration with NARS partners, held a sorghum and finger millet field day in Miwaleni Research Station on 30 June. The field day exposed stakeholders along the sorghum value chain and income enhancing strategies. The event was attended by 25 project coordinators and scientists from partner institutions from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Southern Sudan and Eritrea; 50 farmers and 20 extension staff from five HOPE districts of Rombo, Kondoa, Singida, Iramba and Kishapu; and representatives from beer (East African Malt Ltd and Tanzania Breweries Ltd), food processing (Nyirefam), and seed (SEED Co and Namburi) industries.
Inaugurating the field day, chief guest G Kirenga, Director for Crop Development, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS), complimented the project for using the value chain approach and challenged national partners to incorporate project activities into local programs such as MAFS’ “Kilimo Kwanza” (Agriculture First). M Samizi, District Commissioner of Moshi, promised to assist in sharing information on improved sorghum and finger millet technologies with the six districts in the larger Kilimanjaro region and added that food relief interventions (sorghum grain) in schools had improved student performance.
Also present was Professor Lewis Mughogho, Chairman, HOPE Project Advisory Board who commended ICRISAT and its national partners for the project’s strong food security focus, involvement of public-private partnerships, the participatory varietal selection (PVS) approach and the choice of indigenous crops. He emphasized the need to develop and promote ways of enhancing household level utilization of the crops to
enhance their demand. F Muhhuku, Tanzania’s Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) representative was also present.
The activity also gave farmers an opportunity to air their problems such as bird damage to sorghum and unreliable sorghum grain prices. For instance, Tanzania Breweries Ltd (TBLs) makes Eagle beer from white sorghum grain. This grain is being bought at Tshs (Tanzania shillings) 400 (US$ 0.30) per kg from individual farmers through a contract. However, TBL’s conditions for contract for grain purchase includes that it be white grain sorghum, and that the company will only pick up a minimum of 100 tons per contract. TBL also helps to link farmers to credit to finance production in order to meet the minimum requirement of 100 tons per contract. This demonstrates how farmers can benefit immensely through collective marketing.
Nyirefam from the food processing sector, also raised the issue of the poor quality of grain delivered to their plant by farmers and suggested that grain quality be improved by using better postharvest technologies such as motorized sorghum threshers, an area that the project is already pursuing.