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Over 15,000 households benefit from horticulture training

Over 15,000 households benefit from horticulture training

OVER 15,000 households in Mbeya, Songwe and Katavi regions have benefited from the training on modern farming in horticulture offered by a nongovernmental organisation based in the southern highlands zone – Helivetas.

The training mainly focuses on supporting women and youths in eleven local government councils in the selected three regions to get economic benefits from the agriculture sector through modern farming   technologies.

Speaking to the ‘Daily News’ here at the Agriculture Exhibitions, Helivetas director for Kibohavi programme that coordinates the training, Daniel Kalimbiya said the programme that is funded by the European Union (EU) is part of efforts to commercialise horticulture for economic gains of farmers.

"We are part of implementers of Agri-Connect Programme that is funded by the EU. The main aim is to empower youths and women economically through modern farming technologies that can be practised in a small area and in turn bring huge harvests," he explained.

Mr Kalimbiya added that under the programme, farmers are being taught how to use little water on irrigating their crops but being assured of sufficient harvests.

"We are also teaching them how to make manure through chicken and rabbit keeping," he said.

He noted further that apart from economic gains, the programme also  helps to assure food security among the  households while mitigating the  impacts of climate change that in most cases, brings little gravest from agriculture activities.

"We strive to support farmers to improve their production methods, reduce postharvest losses and increase income by marketing their produce, given the fact that agriculture is by far the most important sector of the country’s  economy," noted further Mr Kalimbiya.

Efforts by Helivetas organization has received Mbeya regional  government support which is constructing a vegetable and fruits processing factory to add value to crops before selling  to the international market.

The factory, being built at the Old Airport,  Iyela ward,  at the  cost of  over 1bn/-, is among projects implemented through the Value Adding Programme with special focus on coffee, tea and horticultural crops known as Agri-Connect under the sponsorship of the EU.

"The project is expected to cost more than 1bn/- and will be the biggest factory of its kind in the East African region," he said.

He said the facility will also accommodate other institutions engaging in the verification of the quality of products. It will also have modern shops that will be selling products.  Over 200 small traders conducting their businesses will also be housed in the facility.

Speaking, one of the agriculture entrepreneurs Fatma Mbaga said the project will facilitate their business.

"We thank the government and stakeholders for setting up this plant, it will be so helpful for us in adding value to our products as well as assuring quality and standard before being sold." she said.

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Author: DEOGRATIUS KAMAGI in Mbeya

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