Farmers in worry over seeds crisis

Wednesday March 29 2017

A millet farm in Lake Zone. Millet is a crop

A millet farm in Lake Zone. Millet is a crop that easily survives rain shortage, but farmers are claiming this one and other drought resistant crops, are now hard to come by. PHOTO | FILE 

By Jonathan Musa TheCitizenTz news@thecitizen.co.tz

Mwanza. Residents in Mwanza this week expressed concern over the continued lack of millet seeds even as they strive to grow drought resistant crops.

Authorities had in the past advised farmers to cultivate crops such as potatoes, cassava and millet which can thrive even when rains are scarce.

Attending a Regional Consultative Committee (RCC) meeting, the Mwanza Regional Commissioner John Mongella ordered every district council to purchase the seeds so as to help farmers to cultivate drought resistant crops.

Speaking to The Citizen yesterday at different intervals, residents of Kwimba, Misungwi, Ilemela and Magu districts admitted that millet seeds were scarse and very expensive.

In Ilemela, one resident who identified himself as Gervas Andrea, said that despite the government’s insistance on the need to cultivate drought resistance crops, seeds remain a major challenge with a kilo of millet being sold for Sh5,000.

In Misungwi, Mr Misoji Amosi put the blame on extension officers who, he claimed, have not been educating them on how to identify seeds that mature in a short periods.

And the blame game continues with the district authorities saying the farmers were to blame.

Misungwi District Council Director Eliud Mwaiteleke said the council ordered two tonnes of the millet seeds from Uganda, but until Monday only four wards had purchased the seeds.

Mwaiteleke said this had demoralised the authotities from carrying out their duties.

Misungwi District Agriculture Officer Silas Ntamji said a 5kg bag of millet seeds sold for Sh20, 000.

For his part, Sengerema District Council Director Magesa Mafuru said they were yet to purchase millet seeds, which, he said, had been hard to come by.