TARI pockets Sh1.4bn to improve palm oil output

The government has released about Tsh1.4 billion to the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute
(TARI) to support improved production of palm oil in the country. The fund is chiefly for research and production of sufficient palm oil seedlings to farmers, as well as imparting extension officers and farmers with need- ed agronomic practices to cultivate the cash crop professionally.
Dr Filson Kagimbo, the National Coordinator for Palm Oil Research, said the immediate focus is to produce a total of 5,000,000 seedlings annually.
The seeds are to be distributed by TARI-Kihinga and TARI-Ilonga centres, he said recentLY.
“The government has channelled the money that is enabling us to conduct activities on time and more efficiently,” he said.
Dr Kagimbo stressed the need for the government to increase relevant budget allocations in order to have the much needed strategy to fetch the intended results.
He said the initiative requires a serious financial muscle to al- low conduction of thorough re- searches, innovations, seedling production as well as training farmers and extension officers.
He further insisted that as of June, 2020, the centre had already produced at least 1,805,868 seedlings, sufficient to cover a total of 36,117 acres.
According to him, currently there are more than 800,000 seedlings, whereby the annual target is to produce at least 1.2million palm oil seedlings.
For his part, Palm Oil Researcher for Eastern Zone, Frank Reuben, said at least 76,000 palm oil seedlings have so far been produced at the Morogoro-based TARI Ilonga Centre.
He noted that the centre’s focus is to produce 200,000 seedlings within a period of six months, to be distributed to farmers in Morogoro, Tanga and Coast regions.
The national coordinator point- ed out that the demand for palm oil seedlings keep on increasing as more farmers in the country now want to cultivate the crop.
Lack of enough improved palm oil seed varieties and poor aware-
ness of best practices among farmers and agricultural officers stands among factors weakening the per- formance of the vital sub-sector.
Statistics show that Tanzania imports 365,000 metric tonnes of edible oil annually, which costs the government at least Tsh443 billion palm oil is the most consumed edible oil in Tanzania due to its widespread avail- ability and cost-effectiveness.
In 2016, domestic edible oil consumption was estimated to be 570,000MT, 64 per cent of it be- ing palm oil, 30 per cent sunflow- er and 2 per cent cottonseed oil.