Rehema Athumani Kimbesi grows sunflower in Tandala village, Mondo ward of Chemba District. Rehema a 60 age farmer started planting sunflower in 1980 and these days she uses the money earned from her 10 acre plot to support her grandchildren.
In the past, Rehema has been frustrated by sunflower production, as she typically gets low yields that struggle to offset her investment costs. Throughout her nearly 40 years as a sunflower farmer, she has never purchased an improved seed, always buying locally, or recycling seed from the last season’s production. Over the years, Rehema’s fields produced 2-4 bags per acre.
Then in November 2017, an officer from Central Zone Sunflower Oil Processor Association (CEZOSOPA) came to Tandala village and explained the benefits of improved seed varieties to Rehema and her neighbors, and told them how to access and plant these improved seeds. The crowd was excited but cautious – the seeds were much more expensive but they could also yield very high volumes of sunflower, which might make the cost worthwhile. The farmers asked to try these seeds. CEZOSOPA worked with TechnoServe to improve the sunflower value chain in Dodoma in order to increase the incomes of smallholder farmers in the region.
Through support from the Agricultural Markets Development Trust, TechnoServe organized with the ByTrade seed company to distribute seed samples to villages across the Dodoma Region.
In mid-December 2017, a ByTrade agronomist and the Ward Extension Officer visited Tandala village and gave Rehema the honor of hosting the village’s sunflower demonstration plot. She received 1kg of free HySun-33 seeds from ByTrade, to plant a 0.5-acre plot, for the entire village to see. Also, her neighbors received 50g seed packets so that they could experiment themselves and see how the seed performed in their soil. Rehema was pleased to have these seeds and happy that she had enough time to prepare before planting.
After waiting for three weeks for enough rain to fall, Rehema planted her seeds on 4th January 2018 with extension officer support. When the Extension Officer returned two weeks later to check on the seeds and do the first weeding, they were very pleased to see excellent germination, around 85-90%.
Rehema is happy, and tending to her new sunflower. “If yield will be as promised at least 10 bags per acre, inshallah next year I will buy hybrid seeds”, said Rehema.