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Will the new seeds make a difference?

19th February 2013
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Editorial Cartoon

Our attention is drawn to a just-revealed recent development having little to do with political events and personalities commonly grabbing the headlines but, by all accounts, meriting pride of place in discussions at national, regional and even world conferences.

The development revolves around reports of multiplication centres at several agricultural research institutions in Tanzania having come up with more than 20 new varieties of hybrid cereal seeds known to be not only high-yielding but also early maturing and resistant to drought and diseases.

It is all the more heartening hearing that the National Seed Committee, which is a wing of the Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperative ministry, has already endorsed the use of the newly developed seeds.

Given the highly erratic nature of global weather these days, often swiftly condemned as among the major manifestations of the cruel facts about climate change, the discovery of massively beneficial seeds such as these is highly welcome news for predominantly agrarian economies like Tanzania.

Therefore, our heartfelt congratulations go to all the brains behind the groundbreaking research that has led to the achievements the country is witnessed and is expected to benefit immensely from.

The nation is evidently indebted to the experts at such research centres as Uyole in Mbeya, Ilonga in Kilosa, Katrin in Ifakara and Horti-Tengeru in Arusha – not to forget Aminata Quality Seeds and Consultancy Limited, Tanzania Breweries Limited, Panar Seeds (Tanzania) Company, Namburi Seed Company, East African Seed (Tanzania) Limited and Bajuta International (Tanzania) Limited – all of which are reported to have had a hand in efforts to make the studies a resounding success.

It is common knowledge that several parts of Tanzania are faced with varying degrees of food shortage, a dehumanising situation mainly blamed on long periods of drought or generally inclement weather.

True, bailing out food-short villages, districts or regions by moving in supplies from food-surplus ones could make a difference in the short run. However, this is much more easily said than done, considering the impediments in the form of transport, financial and other problems one would have to surmount to do so.

The reported breakthrough in seed development research conducted in our own backyards, the thrust being on the likes of sorghum, beans, “Irish potatoes”, maize, rice and barley, should serve as a pad from which to launch enough production of improved varieties of the seeds to meet demand.

Fortunately, that is the gist of the message the Agricultural Seed Agency has for farming communities – that mass production of the just-approved varieties of seeds would begin soon, with delivery to farmers across the country expected to completed before the next sowing season sets in.

It is our sincere hope that farmers will reciprocate the researchers’ efforts by making good use of the seeds, which many have been demanding for quite some time. Failure to do so will surely be a let-down costing the farmers themselves and the nation in general a fortune, not least in research initiative wasted and harvests forgone.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN