Sisal farmers set to gain more

Small scale sisal growers can now sigh with relief as demand for sisal products is increasing following diversification of its use locally and abroad.

Traditionally, sisal has been used mostly for the production of agricultural twines, ropes, cordage, sacks, bags and carpets. 

But, according to the Katani Limited Managing Director, Mr Salum Shamte production of alternative value added products from sisal such as biogas, bio fertilizers, biofuel, industrial alcohols, pulp for paper, buffing cloth and composites was fuelling increasing demand of the product.

Sisal production is a source of incomes to between 300 and 400 families, cultivating a minimum of 15 hectares, earning an average of 800,000/- ( 500 US dollars) monthly. 

Following the increasing demand, sisal production has almost doubled to 35,000 metric tonnes compared to about 15,000 metric tonnes produced four years ago, he said.

According to him production is predicted to reach 40,000 metric tonnes in the next three years time. 

“There is great need for the sisal industry to continue diversifying its end uses in order to become viable and relevant in today's competitive business environment,” he noted.

Despite fluctuations during economic crisis, he said sisal prices in the world market has been stable and promising for increased income generations to the small scale growers for improved livelihood and the efforts to alleviate poverty.

The average sisal price in the world market ranges between 1,200 US dollars per tonne and 1,400 US dollars, even at times of bumper harvests in Brazil, China and Kenya which are among the world leading sisal producers.

Production declined between the 1980s and 1990s because of a competition with synthetic and a substantial decline sisal price in the world market. 

However, with technological advances and a big demand of sisal, production has gone up tremendously to an annual production of about 30,000 tonnes per year between 2000 and 2008.
Source: The Daily News, reported from Dar es Salaam
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