THE government through the Ministry of Agriculture plans to increase the production of edible oil from different oil seed crops, particularly sunflower and palm oil to meet the current edible oil demand in the next five years.

The demand for edible oil in Tanzania stands at 570,000 metric tonnes per year, while production stands at 205,000 metric tonnes.

The deficit which is about 64 per cent is filled by import, which costs the country huge amount of forex.

Speaking at Nanenane exhibitions at Nyakabindi grounds in Simiyu region, TARI Ilonga Centre Director, Dr Joel Meliyo said in order to achieve the goal, the government through the Ministry of Agriculture has long and short term plans to ensure adequate edible is produced in the country.

The short term plan is centred on improving sunflower production up to 2 metric tonnes of grain that can be used to extract over 700,000 metric tonnes of edible oil.

TARI Ilonga Centre is required to develop improved sunflower seed with high oil content and resistant to environmental shocks and make available for multiplication by different stakeholders in order to be available to all sunflower growers in 19 regions of the country.

“Not only have we planned to produce the improved varieties, but also to develop many good agronomic practices that enable the improved seed attain increased productivity and production per unit area. We want to achieve the government goal of cutting off importation of edible oil,” Dr Meliyo explained.