Dar es Salaam — Cassava crop, one of the cash crops in Tanzania has been singled out as the one which will play a big role in improving the lives of farmers in the country if well developed.
Taking into consideration that the crop is widely grown in most parts of the country and holds immense potential as a cash crop through value addition, a big number of small holder farmers could be benefited easily if immediate measures to develop the crop will be given special care.
Due to this, Tanzania's Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Eng Christopher Chiza said that the government will therefore support efforts aimed at supporting farmers to optimize the crop and realize the available potential in the industry.
However, Chiza noted, cassava still suffers from being widely perceived as a fall-back crop during famine while the prevalence of cassava mosaic and cassava brown streak diseases hamper its production. "Although a lot of cassava is being grown in different parts of the country and some even exported to neighboring countries, a good volume of the crop is still wasted and rotting in many farmers' fields," Chiza said.
He therefore urged IITA to continue assisting the country's farmers to optimally produce and use this crop through its research efforts, and in return he assured the team of his ministry's full support.
Chiza said the country needed research on processing and on marketing, and the findings to be widely disseminated to reach farmers. He added that farmers also need access to varieties that can withstand the two main cassava diseases.
The minister was speaking to a delegation from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) led by Dr Victor Manyong, Director for Eastern Africa, during a courtesy call to the minister's office last week.
Dr Manyong, on his part, said Tanzania is one of IITA's priority countries and that the institute is investing a lot of resources to boost its research and development capabilities and activities in the country.
He emphasized that it is due to the good support received from the government that IITA decided to establish its Eastern Africa Hub in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.