Mr Mwigulu who was responding to a basic question from Ms Jesica Kishoa (Special Seats – Chadema), said the legislators should motivate farmers to cultivate more crops producing edible oil, to ensure enough raw materials for local industries.
Ms Kishoa wanted the government to reduce importation of cooking oil, so that local farmers cultivate sunflower and palm trees to produce more and gain more from the local market. Mr Nchemba said reducing importation of the cooking oil was not viable at the moment, because the currently locally produced cooking oil cannot meet local market demands.
The minister stated that imposing a ban on importation of cooking oil may result in a scarcity of the commodity causing a crisis in the country, but encouraged the legislators to continue encouraging farmers to cultivate and produce more and the government will come up with policy that will discourage importation of the commodity.
Earlier, responding to the basic question from the legislator, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Mr William Ole Nasha, said the government spends a lot of its foreign currency on importing cooking oil, without giving figures.
He said the government in collaboration with the private sector had prepared strategies aimed at increasing production of seeds for crops to produce edible oil, specifically sunflower, whose production has been increasing every year.
“In Singida Region different groups have been formed by the government institutions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), whose objective is to increase value of sunflower products and availability of agricultural inputs and markets.
He said Kigoma was the only leading region in palm production, compared to other parts of the country, adding that so far in Kigoma there are more than 18,924 hectares of palm trees with a potential to produce 1.6 tonnes per hectare.
He noted that is still small compared to the estimated four tonnes per hectare that can be produced in the region. “We are now encouraging farmers to revive old palm tree farms and increase cultivation of the crop and use quality seeds that can produce high yields.
The region in collaboration with other stakeholders has started producing high quality palm seeds, which will be distributed to farmers who will be required to plant 137 seedlings per hectare,” he said.
The deputy minister said farmers would also be empowered so they can acquire palm oil manufacturing equipment, adding that the central and local governments were calling on investors to invest in the region for production of edible oil and other products from the palm crop.