Dodoma. Former Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda has lauded the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (Sagcot) for its efforts aimed at introducing smart farming practices among smallholder farmers that will help improve productivity.
Speaking during a function to award him with Sagcot’s highest award dubbed Sagcot Initiative Responsible Award at the weekend, Mr Pinda said the organisation has distinguished itself as an institution targeting to reach millions of peasants.
He said the efforts by Sagcot to equip smallholder farmers with the skills for enhancement of production and market access will soon start bearing fruit.
Citing cultivation of round potatoes as an example, Mr Pinda said: “Today, potatoes are extensively cultivated (in Iringa and Njombe and Mbeya regions). You’ve done a very good job in this. There was a time I thought of visiting you. I’m glad you have come,” he told Sagcot delegation led by chief executive officer Geoffrey Kirenga.
Improved varieties of potatoes are presently cultivated in Sagcot’s first functional Ihemi Cluster.
He praised Sagcot for launching its second Mbarali Cluster to increase crop production in Mbeya and Songwe regions. Peasants in the two regions primarily cultivate paddy as food and cash crop and Mr Pinda observed, “Mbarali farmers are very hard working people.”
The ex-Premier said he was happy to learn that Sagcot was working hard to reach two million peasants in southern highlands regions.
He said: “If you succeed to reach all these farmers, then tomatoes cultivation in Iringa will be safe, potatoes in Njombe will earn more money and Mbarali paddy growers will increase production.”
Mr Kirenga said the government has been supportive of Sagcot’s efforts, saying this has been an incentive for them to double their efforts under phase two of the government’s agriculture sector development programme (ASDP II). Nonetheless, he said, there are challenges to be cleared in relation to policy and by-laws.
The head of Sagcot’s Policy, Ms Neema Lugangira, said a seminar to discuss ways of eliminating challenges will be held next month and will involve TFDA, TBS and TFRA.