This week, a delegation of Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and iAGRI staff traveled to Dar es Salaam meeting with public and private stakeholders in preparation for the upcoming launch of the Tractor Training and Research Program taking place on April 1st. The meetings began with visits to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries followed by LonAgro, the dealership for John Deere in Tanzania. The visits were completed by participating in the partnerships meeting of the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) and the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF).
The launch event will feature the donation of a fully-equipped, 75 horsepower tractor from John Deere, to SUA’s Department of Engineering Sciences and Technology. “Tanzania can feed the region, but not without mechanization,” stated Maria Mullei, Innovation Portfolio Manager at iAGRI. The partner organizations visited during the meetings will be in attendance at the April 1st event taking place at SUA at the Agricultural Engineering Department field. Confirmed participants in the event’s program include Tanzania’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, the Commission on Science and Technology-COSTECH, LonAgro-Tanzania, the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) and the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF).
“What’s more important is what happens after the launch,” stated Maria Mullei. The training program will offer students the opportunity to develop skills using up-to-do equipment. “The program will also train agricultural engineering students who will become managers of different farmers. They will be the decision-makers at the farm level,” added Amini Kweka, Intellectual Property Lead at SUA. Five participants from the Ministry of Agriculture will be sponsored by iAGRI to attend the four-day training program, the first of a series of sessions that will provide instruction on tractor usage and mechanization. In addition to the tractor, the donation will include a disc plough, disc harrow, ripper, planter, boom sprayer, baler, and combine harvester. The implements will enable training on conservation agriculture techniques.
“SUA has a lot to offer. SUA is able to do more than just produce graduates,” stated Innocent Shillingi, Team Lead, Smallholder Farmers Projects for sub-Saharan Africa. “Graduates need to be industry facing for today’s competitive job market.” In addition to training university staff and students, the program will also target women and youth to take part in training events and certification programs. “Farmers would never just come to the university, especially women and youth in agriculture. By having the training program open to farmers, we are able to promoting inclusion and accessibility,” added Innocent Shillingi.
The launch will take place on April 1, 2016 beginning at 10am at SUA’s Department of Engineering Sciences and Technology. For more information, visit the event website here: http://iagri.org/events/tractor-training-program-ttp-launch/