By Patrick Kisembo @TheCitizenTz firstname.lastname@example.org
Kilosa. Experts from the Agricultural Research Institute (ARI)-Ilonga have advised leaders at all levels to encourage farmers to cultivate cassava, which is a drought resistant crop with a reliable market.
Speaking during an exhibition of various crops researched at ARI in Kilosa, the Eastern Zone director of research and development in the ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Dr Geoffrey Mkamilo, said it was the duty of leaders, including district commissioners, executive directors and local government leaders to promote the cultivation of cassava in their areas.
He said the crop had a good market after the institute conducted an in-depth study on it and found how advantageous it was to farmers.
"This same crop will liberate farmers from poverty and increase their family incomes because it has a reliable market locally and internationally, particularly in China," said Dr Mkamilo.
For his part, legumes lead researcher at ARI-Ilonga, Mr Meshack Makenge, said they had also decided to study legumes because of their high nutritional value and demand.
"We want to have a new type of seeds to have quality crops, which can compete in the international market," said Mr Makenge.
He pointed out that if planted and grew well, legumes - such as peas, beans, lentils, soybeans and peanuts - were a source of protein, fibres, carbohydrates and minerals.
"They also improve soil fertility and help fight against pests," he explained.
For his part, the director of research and development from the ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Dr Geofrey Kajilu, said the the ARI had decided to support the government to realise its industrialisation dream as the country envisions becoming an industrial and middle income economy by 2025.
Speaking at the exhibition, Kilosa District Commissioner Adam Mgoyi directed the office of the district executive director to ensure farmers cultivated cassava for its comparative advantages as a drought resistant and suitable crop for food security.
Mr Mgoyi urged farmers to utilise seeds from ARI-Ilonga to increase crop yield.
Cassava is the third-largest source of food carbohydrates in the tropics, after rice and maize.
It is a staple crop in some parts of Tanzania and is recommended for its being a drought resistant crop, which can help farmers create food security.