THE Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARIIlonga centre) has researched and found at least three new sunflower hybrid seed varieties scheduled for release to farmers in October, this year.
The new development aims at improving the crop production that is currently cultivated in all regions countrywide, except Dar es Salaam.
The Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP), in 2016 indicated that sunflower is the most likely subsector to yield investable opportunities in Tanzania.
However, the country is yet to reap the economic opportunities in the sub-sector, due to several factors, which include absence of enough hybrid seed varieties forcing farmers to recycle seeds.
However, possible factors are likely to propel increased sunflower production in the near future, which according to National Coordinator for Sunflower Research, Dr Frank Reuben, are potential and superior agronomic characteristics of sunflower.
Dr Reuben further said there was a need for alternative crops in some areas of the country, because of increased demand for edible oils for health reasons.
He further detailed that TARI-ILO 2019 and TARI-NA 2019, the new seeds have high yield of grains and oil, besides being resistant to pests and diseases and for being tolerant to drought.
"These are appropriate seed varieties for small scale and largescale farmers. The reason is that these seeds allow farmers to produce and distribute them in Quality Declared Seed (QDS) class within their farming community under the Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) supervision," Dr Reuben noted.
He expressed that the institution was now working round the clock to ensure that the varieties become known, accessible and used professionally by farmers.
The Coordinator further said the expansion of sunflower research in Tanzania was important, and that there was enough land for growing the crop.