Simiyu. The Tanzania Sisal Board has handed over a sisal farming manual to local agricultural stakeholders, to ensure that the farmer produces quality sisal and sells it at a higher value in the market.
Handing over the guide, Hassan Kibarua, head of research and marketing co-ordinator, said the lake region sisal is the longest so farmers should be educated on how to process it professionally so that it does not depreciate.
“The sisal must be processed no more than 48 hours after it is cut but you find a farmer processing the cut sisal for more than five days, you have reduced quality and when you get to the market you are not on the 3L quality grade which has a high price,” said Kibarua.
He added that farmers should also be instructed on how to process and clean sisal so that they do not send dirty sisal (pods) to the market as small mistakes lead to a decline in the value of the crop.
Earlier explaining the importance of soil health testing to increase sisal production, Tanzania’s soil research coordinator from TARI-Mlingano Dr Sibaway Mwango, said that extension officers should be a bridge to connect researchers and farmers.
“Soil health is very important for productive agriculture so the extension officer is responsible for ensuring that the farmer is motivated to carry out such tests,” said Dr Mwango.
He said the aim was to protect the health of the soil and to avoid the use of improper fertilizers that cause damage to the soil and the farmer is failing to get the right yield depending on the size of the land.
In Simiyu region, sisal crops have already been cultivated by farmers in some areas, especially in Meatu and Maswa districts, who send their sisal to the Kishapu sisal farmers’ federation (SHIWAMKI) in Shinyanga region.
Some of the farmers have described how they run the farm and that previously they did not know that sisal is a property until they got the knowledge of the farm and worked on it and now they are benefiting from it.
“The good thing is that sisal does not tolerate drought or heavy rain in any case you have to harvest and I am mixing it with my other seasonal crops such as maize and cotton” said Mabula Kipawa a sisal farmer in Meatu district.
“If you look at my current and previous economy there is a lot of change now I am farming a farm that earns me any money until I reach the point where I can send my children to school and have a good economy,” said Mizwazwa Kidia, a sisal farmer in Mwasengea ward.
Despite the fact that they have been making a profit in agriculture, the farmers have pointed out that transport is a challenge that hinders many farmers from cultivating their crops.
“Transportation is a problem because you transport cargo from the field and when you finish recycling you transport it to the federation, then it is transported back to Tanga and then to the market, you find yourself left with a benefit that perhaps transport would have been twice as big,” added Mizwazwa