Tanzania: Tari Improves Drought Resistant Crops, Trains Farmers

FARMERS in central zone regions have been empowered with modern skills that would enable them cultivate strategic crops, which adapt well in semi-arid regions using improved seed varieties.

Speaking at Ipala Ward in Dodoma region during a special training to educate farmers on modern agronomic practices necessary in the professional cultivation of drought-resistant food crops, which include sorghum, millet and finger-millet, Senior Plant Breeder at the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), Hombolo Centre, Dr Lameck Nyaligwa, said the crops have started to attract a number of farmers in many regions.

He said the centre has several projects to research on, has invented and improved and hybrid seed aimed at mass production of the crops in the country. Citing details, Dr. Nyaligwa said the institution has so far invented the best improved seed variety of finger-millets dubbed U-15 and P224 currently being used by several farmers across the country.

"For instance, the improved seed varieties of the finger-millets are currently being cultivated in a massive way by farmers in Kondoa and Kongwa districts of Dodoma, Serengeti, Singida, Sumbawanga, Kilimanjaro rural and Same," he pointed out.

Elaborating, the Plant Breeder noted that the focus was to ensure farmers are skilled on the application of the improved seed varieties as well as relevant agronomic practices for the professional cultivation of the crops.

"The improved seeds have multiple advantages, first, they are drought tolerant and can enable farmers to realize bumper harvests," he added.

Despite facing some financial constraints, Dr. Nyaligwa said the centre works tirelessly to motivate the farmers to massively invest in the cultivation of the crops, targeting to increase their individual incomes and country's increased capability to produce enough food and crop as raw materials for industries.

"The crops have for some years received negative attention and support, but they are rich in nutrition and potential in iron and zinc," he said. Following the centre's seeds' innovations, the Plant Breeder said there was a great demand for the seeds among farmers, adding that that is a challenge they must address.

"The development calls for enough capital to enable increased production and distribution of the seeds to the farmers and that must be addressed," he pointed out.

The training was organized by TARI as part of this year's Farmer's Field Day (FFD) in the region, located about 46km from Dodoma Capital City, the centre is mandated to undertake research on sorghum, millet and agronomy.

It is also in a contract with Tanzania Breweries Limited (TBL) to research and produce sorghum hybrid seeds varieties needed in grain tannin at the company for beer brewing.

With financial patronage from the South African- based AB InBev Company worth about 11,000 USD $, the robust project has opened a fresh successive agribusiness doors to farmers in the central zone especially Dodoma region.

The key agricultural initiatives have midwifed the establishment of vast hectares of preliminary field trial plantations needed to enhance sorghum seed varieties production at the state- owned center in Hombolo, Kongwa district covering at least 10,000 acres.

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