In the fertile lands of Mbeya Region, Mbeya Rural District at Igoma Village, a new era of agricultural prosperity is unfolding, led by the region’s dedicated potato farmers. Ms Tulalumba Mloge, Principal Executive Assistant to the SAGCOT Chief Executive Officer, has shared inspiring insights into the recent developments reshaping this vibrant community’s agricultural landscape.
Igoma Village: A Hub of Agricultural Activity
Situated just 60 km from Mbeya City, Igoma village is a manifestation to agricultural dedication. Here, potato farming and other agricultural pursuits serve as the backbone of the local economy, breathing life and vitality into every aspect of village life.
The Rise in Market Value and Strategic Selling
Under the skilled leadership of a dedicated team facilitated by SAGCOT involving Ms. Goreth Mfuse from SAGCOT Centre Mbarali Cluster Office, Mr. Beno Mgaya from Lusitu Agribusiness, and Mr. Mhagama, Agriculture officer of Igoma village and Mbeya Regional Secretariat, the Igoma potato farmers have entered the harvesting season with renewed purpose and strategy. Their most significant achievement involves forging a partnership with East Africa Food Ltd, a SAGCOT partner, which has brought about a pivotal change in their sales approach. By securing a deal with this significant buyer, the farmers can now sell their produce at an impressive rate of TZS 36,000 per sack, a substantial increase from the usual TZS 30,000 offered by other buyers.
This shift has not only benefited the farmers of Igoma but has also influenced the broader market. Igoma AMCOS, a key player in the negotiation and a beneficiary of a TZS 500 million loan from CRDB with support from VIBINDO, has played a crucial role in elevating the standard market price to around TZS 35,000, reflecting the quality and demand for Igoma’s potatoes.
Innovations in Packing: Embracing the ‘Ngoma’ Method
East Africa Foods Ltd has stood for integrity and quality assurance in an industry where packing methods can significantly impact product quality. They have opted for the ‘Ngoma’ packaging type, abandoning the notorious ‘rumbesa’ type of packaging known for overpacking and therefore disadvantages farmers as they are forced to pack extra quantities of produce, which they are guaranteed not to be paid for. This decision aligns with the farmers’ commitment to quality and has been unanimously supported by all buyers in Igoma, setting a new standard in the potato market. Igoma farmers in this season are all ululating about this positive mover from East African Foods Ltd.
Financial Empowerment and Building Futures
Financial support plays a crucial role in the growth of any agricultural community. Recognizing this, CRDB, a local bank, has provided a substantial loan of TZS 484 million to 126 farmers in the village. Although there were some delays in the disbursement, the farmers have begun repaying the loan, demonstrating their commitment to responsible financial management and building a foundation of trust for future financial support.
Impressive Agricultural Yields and Future Prospects
The report from Igoma also highlights an impressive average yield, with farmers harvesting around 80 sacks per acre, each weighing approximately 90 kg this is equivalent to about 18 mt/Ha of potato. Although this yield is lower compared to other areas in the Southern Highlands, it positions Igoma as a promising player in the national and regional agricultural markets, especially in terms of using proper volume metrics. Most farmers are still harvesting lower than 7 mt/ha.
The success story of Igoma’s potato farmers serves as an inspiration to all. It showcases the power of community collaboration, strategic market positioning, and the relentless pursuit of quality and innovation. As they continue to navigate the challenges and opportunities of agriculture, the farmers of Igoma are not just growing potatoes – they are cultivating a legacy of prosperity, resilience, and community empowerment.
The transformative Potato Partnership in the SAGCOT region is reshaping the agricultural landscape, significantly enhancing food security and livelihoods for farmers. This ambitious initiative aims to double potato farmers’ productivity and profitability, marking a significant stride in agricultural advancement. The partnership has garnered widespread acclaim across the region and proudly represents the Government of Tanzania at the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat. This representation is part of a larger project dedicated to improving the seed potato trade in Eastern Africa, supported by GIZ through the Global Fund for Agriculture Policy and Innovation (GV FABI).
Significantly, SCL embodies the private sector’s involvement and has played a crucial role in coordinating various potato partners, including the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, TPHPA, Silverlands, Tanzanice, HZPC, ISOWELU AMCOs, AGRICO, Euro Plant, Grimme, Kibaigwa, YARA, Bayer, TOSCI, Beula Seeds, Lusitu Agribusiness Group, and potato farmers from Northern and Southern Tanzania. These partners have been instrumental in reviewing and validating the draft strategy and work plan for seed potato trade in Eastern Africa. This collaborative effort underscores the importance of strategic partnerships in driving agricultural innovation and prosperity, not only in Tanzania but across the broader Eastern African region.