10 Factors that favored location of the kilombero irrigation scheme

The scheme started in 1960 and it became a government parastatal called Sugar Development co-operation in 1968.

Today, it employs over 46,000 workers and it contributes 40% of the total sugar production in Tanzania.

It has mainly encouraged the development of outgrowers’ schemes.



Factors that favored location of the scheme

  • Presence of rivers such as Kilombero and Ruaha that provides constant supply of water for irrigating sugarcane.
  • The gently sloping land which favors use of machines for large scale farming e.g. ploughs and tractors.
  • The flat nature of the area which favors irrigation by use of gravity flow of water.



  • Extensive land due to sparse population also provided enough land for the large scale irrigation scheme.
  • Availability of deep and well drained fertile alluvial soils deposited by R. Kilombero for the growing of sugarcane.
  • Hot temperatures of about 230C and above which favor the growth, ripening and harvesting of sugarcane.
  • The rainfall is unreliable hence leading to the use of irrigation to supplement the rainfall.
  • Presence of ready market for the sugar which is both local and international e.g. Zambia.



  • Supportive government policy to open up remote areas in southern Tanzania also led to the setting up of the scheme.
  • Opening up of the Tanzam-Tazara railway in 1975, also increased accessibility to the area hence providing cheap transport.
  • Availability of adequate capital from Kilombero Company for investment e.g.  Buying machines, land and paying workers.



  • Availability of abundant and cheap labour to work on the scheme e.g. from the surrounding communities.

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