Problems facing the farmers on the kilombero valley 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 out growers’ schemes.

Problems facing the farmers on the kilombero valley irrigation scheme

  • Diseases e.g. yellow wilt that destroys the sugarcane leading to reduced output.
  • Soil exhaustion due to monoculture leading to low output hence low export potential.
  • Leaching of soil due to the excessive water which leads to poor soils hence low productivity.
  • Pests e.g. snails which destroy the sugarcane hence leading to poor quality output.
  • Price fluctuation due to over production and competition with other sugar producing countries e.g. Uganda leading to low morale of farmers.
  • Shortage of labour especially during the harvesting period due to low population in the area.
  • Fire out breaks which destroy large parts of the farms leading to losses for the scheme.
  • Dangerous animals like snakes which scare away the farmers leading to labour shortage.
  • Presence of weeds which compete with sugarcane for water and soil nutrients leading to poor quality output.
  • Silting of the canals by floods which calls for regular dredging yet it’s very expensive.
  • It requires high capital investment to operate the scheme yet capital is not readily available.
  • Salinity of the soils due to excessive evaporation as a result of hot temperatures in the area.
  • Inefficient transport within the scheme which makes the delivery of sugar to the markets very difficult.
  • Natural hazards e.g. hailstorms and strong winds also destroy large parts of the scheme leading to losses.

Steps being taken to solve the problems

  • Spraying of crops by using pesticides to avoid pests and diseases.
  • Price control by government and production by quota system to avoid price fluctuation at the world market.
  • Research on better sugarcane varieties to increase production and quality.
  • Applying fertilizers and manure to increase soil fertility and ensure high productivity.
  • Use of herbicides to control weeds and reduce competition for soil nutrients.
  • Controlling fire outbreaks by living bare land between plots (patching) to stop fire from spreading.
  • Diversification of agriculture to reduce over reliance on sugarcane growing e.g. introduction of ranching.
  • Encouraging mechanization to solve the problem of labour shortage especially during harvesting.
  • Acquiring loans from banks to provide large capital base for farm operations.
  • De-silting and dredging of canals to control floods and ensure proper flow of water.
  • Construction of feeder roads and railways within the scheme to improve accessibility to markets.

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