The Kilimo Kwanza Tractor Project executed by commercial wing of the National Service (SUMA JKT) has handed over six of the farm implements worth 160m/- to small scale farmers from Mrijo ward in Kondoa district, Dodoma region.
Speaking during the handing over ceremony held in Dar es Salaam over the weekend, the SUMA JKT Project manager, Col Felix Semilano, said the tractors were issued under a loan scheme requiring the farmers to join in groups and contribute small amounts of money in repayment.
He said the tractors would enable farmers to implement the Kilimo Kwanza programme in action.
For his part, the representative of farmers, Khalifa Nyasuka, hailed the government initiative of supporting farmers, saying the tractors would help them to cultivate huge areas of land hence increase productivity. A farmer can spend hours cultivating one hectare of land while the same can take minutes using a tractor.
“These tractors have come at a right time to relieve us from cultivating our farms with the hand hoe, which gave us meager yields,” he said.
Last year, the Tanzania Investment Bank (TIB) through its agro finance window opened a door which enabled farmers to take out loans for farming.
“Lending for tractor purchases has picked up considerably,” Prisca Changa, the Head of the agricultural finance window of the TIB was quoted as saying.
The country acquired the tractors on a USD40m loan deal with the government of India.
At the moment, about 70 percent of Tanzania’s total crop area is cultivated by hand hoe, 20 percent by ox plough and only 10 percent by tractor.
The country needs at least 20,000 working tractors to achieve the goals of agricultural self sufficiency stated under ‘Kilimo Kwanza’, experts say.
However whereas there were 17,000 working tractors in the 1970’s, only 8,000 remain. To fill this gap, the country aims to import over 2,000 tractors every year for the next ten years.
Suma JKT, is the agency for the distribution of Farm tractors in the country it has branches in Dodoma, Arusha and Mbeya regions.