Tanzania has been urged to accelerate the pace of agro-mechanization to reach at a permanent state of food self-sufficiency and the vision of becoming, within a shortest possible time, a net food exporter. In an exclusive interview with The Tanzania Tech Consultant Gillsant the MeTL Agro Limited, CEO, Mr. Indrabhuwan Kumar Singh has cited agricultural mechanization as a key to successful agricultural transformation and development of the country.
He said that agro-mechanization was an imperative and a critical necessity to dynamize the agricultural sector thus contributing to a rapid growth of the national economy: “Farm machinery is an essential component in the Green Revolution”, he insisted. He added: “Feeding the increasing population of the continent cannot be achieved by an agricultural system that relies almost entirely on human muscle power”.
Understandably, using manual labour, man can feed himself and up to three other people. Alternatively, if he uses animal draught power, man can feed himself and up to six others. On the other hand, he can feed himself and up to 50 others if he uses mechanical power.
In the country, hoe cultivation is dominant, resulting in smaller areas under cultivation, reduced total output, reduced cash cropping, increased food insecurity, reduced farm incomes and a higher incidence of poverty. “I say the sector needs to be transformed because, in 1960, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania each had more tractors in use than India. But by 2005, India had 100 times more tractors in use than all the three countries combined”, he narrates. “The major thrust should be to modernize and commercialize agriculture”, he emphasizes.
The use of tractors in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has actually declined over the past 40 years and, compared with other world regions, their use in SSA today remains very limited. By contrast, tractor use over the same period in Asia has increased tenfold. The situation in SSA can be illustrated by the extremely low numbers of tractors per 1 000 ha of arable land; in 1980 there were 2 and by 2003 this had sunk to 1.3. By comparison in the Asia and Pacific region, in 1980 there were 7.8 tractors per 1 000 ha and this had risen to 14.9 by 2003.
Over the past few decades failure of the public sector tractor hire-schemes has led to many development practitioners moving away from conventional motorized mechanization approaches, even though the true reasons for these failures were never carefully analysed. Some suggested, probably quite mistakenly, that such a mechanization approach could never be economic, and attention turned to better exploiting the use of draught animals as a source of farm power.
Worse still, commercial banks which consider lending to the agriculture sector as very risky refrain from it or even lend to it at exorbitant interest rates! This is great need of the hour, to emphasize on the execution of retail financing for tractors so it can be easily available to farmers. In some cases, farmers do not qualify for loans due to insufficient collateral. We should look into some sort of engagement practices where farmers and seller can come together for some sort of agreement and both can be benefited.
Mr. Singh decries lack of affordable credit for farmers to purchase inputs, including farm machinery and implements, improved seed technology, Artificial Insemination (AI) for livestock, fingerlings for fish, enhanced levels of irrigation and increased quantities of quality fertilizers and agro-chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, etc).
In as far as modernization of agriculture is aimed at lifting the quality of life of the majority of Tanzanians, the thrust should be to improve productivity and strengthen co-operatives and Savings and Credit Co-operative Societies (SACCOS). Farm machinery and implements can raise farm productivity, profitability and production of a marketable surplus, hence significantly contributing to poverty reduction.
To this end, he recommends that rural banking facilities and co-operatives should be deliberately strengthened and empowered though loan guarantees to enable them to provide financial services to the agriculture-the lead sector in Tanzania. In this context, he advises the Government through the central bank (Bank of Tanzania) to explore the possibility of providing direct support to commercial banks and micro-finance institutions to enable them provide long-term financing and lending needed for agricultural development. This, he explains, could involve facilitation and access to long-term sources of finance such as bond funds, refinancing lines of credit or development trust funds. Moreover, he recommends that tractors should be provided to farmers at subsidized prices and also concessionary terms of loan repayment and interest rates.
Mr. Singh underscores the need to provide farmers with requisite training to equip them with the vital technical know-how, farm best practices and keep them abreast with the technological changes in the world. “Farmers should be able to undertake a technical cost-benefit analysis”, he said.
He applaud’s the Government’s initiative of establishing an agriculture window at the Tanzania Investment Bank (TIB). More importantly, he commends the Government’s decision to establish a Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB) hoping it will fill the void for a kingpin of bolstering agricultural development; providing short, medium and long-term loans and assess credit financing necessary for acquisition of farm machinery, essential agricultural inputs, construction of rural infrastructure (warehouses, agro-processing industries, packaging, transport, insurance and marketing of the produce).
Tanzania’s economy, like many many developing countries is strongly dominated by the agricultural sector. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy supporting majority of the population who live in rural areas depending entirely on agriculture for their living.
About MeTL Agro Ltd
Established in year 2013, METL Agro Ltd is a subsidiary of the 50-year old business conglomerate Mohamed Enterprises Tanzania Ltd (METL) Group in Tanzania. The main objective of METL Agro is to provide total farm solutions to Tanzanian farmers by supplying them with quality agricultural inputs, at affordable prices, in the right time and the right place at their doorstep or in short, we can say one stop shop solution for Farmers.
In an endeavor to reduce human drudgery in the agricultural production system, the company has introduced TAFE tractors which have been widely accepted by farmers in Tanzania due to its salient features and good performance which have resulted in higher productivity. TAFE brand is manufactured by Tractors and Farm Equipment Ltd, a well known and respected member of the Amalgamations Group of Chennai of India.
The company assembles these time-tested, reliable, rugged, fuel-efficient, tough tractors ranging from 47 HP to 100 HP rating for different requirements and soil conditions. All the tractor models are tropicalized and fit for Tanzanian soil conditions. The company has a large committed team working 24 hours a day, seven days a week providing reliable technical and after-sales services across the country.
To complement the TAFE tractors, METL Agro offers a wide spectrum of of high-quality farm implements which provide superior performance in all types of soils and climatic conditions. To improve retail sales the company has developed distribution centers in Masasi, Mtwara, Singida, Arusha, Kigoma, Tabora, Dodoma, Mbeya and Iringa. The company has developed partnership with prominent co-operatives and NGOs supporting farming communities. METL Agro provides a Draft Warranty Policy of the manufacturer, making the tractor service arrangement and providing adequate consumable spares.
Apart from tractors, MeTL Agro also supplies pre- and post-harvest equipment; and farm implements manufactured to conform to international quality standards from different countries such as India. With intent to keep pace with the global innovations, the company is making round-the-clock efforts to supply latest technologies farm equipment and materials to ensure trouble-free farm implements at most economical price. MeTL Agro business strategy includes supplying superior quality products that are designed with advance technology, proven durability, and high performance with low maintenance costs.
The farm implements include Disc Plough, Disc Ridger, Paddy Thresher, Maize Thresher, Type Ridger, Combine Harvester, Rotavator, Tipping Trailers, non-Tipping Trailers, Slashes, Boom Sprayers, Sub Soilers, Cultivators and many more. The company supplies equipment of various dimensions and sizes, and can be customized in compliance with the industry standards.
MeTL AGRO also provides farmers with high quality fertilizer including, but not limited to, DAP, Urea, CAN, Ammonium Sulphate and NPK. Above all, the company is planning to venture into agro-chemicals in the near future.
In a nutshell, METL Agro is a One-Stop-Shop where farming communities can obtain answers and solutions to their agro-related needs.
Metl Agro is doing fantastic contribution in agric sector in Tanzania from last 7 years and in same continuation, Association of Tanzanian Employers (ATE) – awarded the Best Employer of the year (EYA)award in mid scale industry segment to MeTL Agro Limited in 2018.