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About 80% of the population in Rukwa Region earns their living from agricultural activities.The area of arable land is 1,660,600 ha while the area under cultivation is only 447,079 ha (approximately 32% of arable land).
Agriculture in Rukwa region is dominated by small-scale subsistence farming approximately 68 percent of the cultivated land is used by smallholder farmers who operate between 0.5 and 2.0 ha.The region has potential in animal power for agricultural operations, 75% of tillage operations are done using animal power and weeding is done by hand hoe. The region is estimated to have 90 tractors, 147 small tractors (power tiller) and 139,506 pairs of animal draught power. This nature of farming provides ample opportunity for supply of farm implements and establishment of service industry for the same.
Major inputs used by farmers are fertilizers like Di-Ammonium Phosphates (DAP), UREA, CAN and Minjingu Rock Phosphates. Seeds include various certified seeds of Maize hybrids and open pollinated varieties, paddy, beans and sunflower. Others include farm inputs such as improved seeds, fertilizers and pesticides all that need to be available on the right time at the site of production i.e. at the village level
There are ongoing agricultural support programs such as ASDP/DADP, MIVARF former AMSDP and the Rural Financial Support Program (RFSP) that assist farmers to establish savings and credit cooperative societies (SACCOS) which is the nearest financial institution to acquire loans for agriculture development such as buying farm inputs and small machines.The growing need for inputs and machines creates an opportunity for establishment of supply chain of inputs and machinery.
The Region has a total of 72,915 ha potential for irrigation, 5,768 ha are now irrigable using modern irrigation infrastructure which is equivalent to 7.9 percent of available irrigable land.The region has a total of 25 potential areas for irrigation schemes, among these 9 have been developed for modern irrigation infrastructures and 16 are under tradition irrigation.
Potential Areas for Irrigation by Districts
|Potential area for irrigation (Ha)
|Ongoing irriga- tion scheme coverage (Ha)
Agricultural performance is affected by weak agro-industries, poor linkages within the marketing, processing and production chains, poor market-orientation and inadequate processing facilities leading to high levels of post harvest loses. Given the high potentials in the region, investment in agro-processing such as milling and packing maize, rice and finger millet and on extraction of oil from crops (sunflower, sesame and groundnuts) is highly encouraged
The government’s extension services workforce to support agriculture is 237 against the requirement of 367 there is a shortage of 130 Workers (35.4%).The shortage of working gears including transport facilities especially motorcycles for extension services have a negative impact on their performance. Consequently, there is great potential for investment in Human Capital Development and supply of working gears.
Livestock contributes about 20% to GDP in Rukwa region. Farmers keep an average of 12 cattle per family. However, during the past 10 years, there has been a huge influx of agro pastoralists from Tabora, Shinyanga and Mwanza into the region in search for pasture for their livestock. The migrant pastoralists keep an average of 100 to 300 cattle per family. The current total cattle population in Rukwa region is estimated to be 577,982. With the increase in livestock population in the region, there is an open chance for establishment of livestock products processing industries.
There are two ranches and one dairy farm in the Rukwa region. Dairy Farm at Malonje in Sumbawanga Municipality is owned by Heritage Farm. Nkundi and Kalambo beef ranches are owned by SAAFI and NARCO respectively. According to 2002/2003 sample census, Rukwa region has only 1,103 improved dairy animals which is 0.27% of 399,025 dairy animals in the country.The current data (2013/2014 reports) shows that Rukwa region has 7,061 dairy cattle and 537 dairy goats.
The region is endowed with two major lakes (Lake Tanganyika and Lake Rukwa). There are other small lakes and rivers all with reliable fish population. The variety of fish available in the region includes Sardines, Tilapia, Nile perch, Mud fish, English fish, Luciolates, Strapessil “Migebuka” and various ornamental fish species.
Statistics show that fish produced between 1997 and 2002 in Rukwa region totalled 102,260 tons worth TZS 3.453 billion. Most of the fish is caught in Nkasi district (99%).The fish industry has not been fully exploited due to lack of modern fishing equipment, storage facilities, transportation problems and poor extension service. There are hippos and crocodiles in the region. Crocodile farming is conducted in small scale at Muze village near Lake Rukwa.
The existence of Lakes and rivers in this region provides opportunity for investment in Aquaculture including ornamental fish and Crocodile farming. Current challenges in this area include use of obsolete fishing gears, lack of reliable fish market, poor processing facilities, technical knowhow and insufficient capital for procurement of modern fishing equipment.