The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) attended the third edition of Kilombero Cane Farmers’ Day in Tanzania on November 12, 2020. This year’s event was aimed at showcasing the success of green growth initiatives championed by farmers, district authorities, and the private sector, with support from AWF.

The event also focused on creating awareness, promoting new practices, and bringing recognition to successful farmers in particular areas as well as equipping the cane farmers with basic climate-smart agriculture, agronomic, and business management skills and competencies. The event attracted over 650 farmers and several stakeholders.

AWF, through the IUCN SUSTAIN program, in collaboration with the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) and the Kilombero Sugar Company Limited (KSCL), established this day in 2018 to demonstrate the best cane husbandry practices, to display and demonstrate the use of clean and high-quality seed cane for increased productivity and to build the capacity of farmers in identifying and control the major sugarcane pests and diseases in their fields. Since its inception, it has been well received by cane stakeholders and celebrated annually attracting more cane farmers, more exhibitors, and new partnerships.

Tanzania’s Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Cooperatives, Honorable Gerald Kusaya, graced the much-anticipated event as the guest of honor. He appreciated the ongoing efforts and assured the farmers of the government’s support of KSCL’s expansion project which will increase crop yield.

“I urge Kilombero Sugar Company to increase production from the current 125,000 tonnes to 265,000 tonnes per annum because once the expansion project is completed farmers will have enough market,” said Mr. Kusaya as reported in the media.

The inclusion and integration of restoration opportunities within the sugarcane supply chain are important in ensuring healthy ecosystems are sustained. AWF highlighted the importance of the landscape’s biodiversity to the smallholder farmers and stakeholders. The sugarcane farms are surrounded by stunning protected areas of Udzungwa Mountains National Park, Magombera Nature Forest Reserve, and Nyerere National Park with patches of community forests. The presence of endemic species and unique habitats draws global attention.  For this reason, the farmers have been trained and are participating in forest restoration, riverine restoration, water resources protection, and soil fertility restoration as efforts to restore degraded lands in farms and protected areas.

AWF’s SUSTAIN Program Manager, Mr. Pastor Magingi emphasized the importance of increasing efficiencies in the cane supply chain by minimizing post- harvesting loss and including organizing farmers into block farming systems as a strategy for upscaling the agriculture practices in a sustainable way and improving land-use efficiency in Kilombero valley

“My team and I are very proud to see that this day has been meaningful to cane stakeholders. It has been an event to share research findings, new technologies, good agricultural practices, agribusiness, and environmental threats. Our partners TARI-Kibaha, KSC, and SBT have supported us by organizing the event annually. Hopefully, very soon SBT will mark it as a national event. It is our ambition to ensure the sustainability of each AWF-initiated activity in Kilombero,” said Mr. Magingi.