16 April 2018

Tanzania: Researchers Zero in 25 Climatic Resilient Cassava Varieties

RESEARCHERS have identified 25 types of cassava seeds that they will develop to make them resilient to the country's climatic challenges, diseases, drought and extreme coldness.

Efforts are intended to enable regions that currently don't grow the crop due to weather factors to start cultivation to improve food security and raise income of the country's farmers.

The research is conducted under the project dubbed, "Marker assisted selection of useful cassava germplasm adapted to biotic and abiotic

stresses caused by global climate change." It's a multi-country project, which is part of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, involving Tanzania and Kenya.

The Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute (MARI) and Kenyatta University are responsible for the implementation of the project in Tanzania and Kenya, respectively.

"The good thing is that we can now bring cassava seeds in areas, which do not grow the crop... and we are happy that farmers in those areas are eagerly waiting for the seedlings," says Crop Biotechnology Researcher with the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM Dr Gladness Temu.

She told the 'Daily News' in Dar es Salaam over the weekend that the study has chosen cassava because it's the second in the list of essential foods in the country and is set to attract more market in the envisaged industries in the country.

"We initially selected 75 types of cassava seeds and studied their performance in those three different weather situations," she said, noting that the seeds were tested in Bagamoyo District, which is prone to cassava diseases.

The team also researched the seeds in very cold weather in Njombe where 25 varieties seemed to perform well. In hot region of Dodoma, the trial found out that 15 seeds were resilient to the condition.

The researchers therefore selected 25 seeds that will be involved in the process to improve them to become resilient to diseases, cold and hot weather conditions. Dr Temu called for more partnership between the government, farmers and researchers to increase agricultural production to achieve industrialisation.

The team of representatives from the European Union (EU) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) visited the project implementing partners in Dar es Salaam and discussed the project development.

FAO International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture Secretary Kent Nnadozie said the visit purpose was to meet some of the implementing partners.

"We are impressed with the progress so far, the preliminary results I think are quite impressive and encouraging," he said.

He said the project appreciated small farmers whose contribution is critical to development of crop varieties and maintaining them. The small farmers are also vulnerable to climate changes and other environmental issues.

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