In an interview with the Guardian recently, ASA’s CEO, Dr Sophia Kashenge said the transformation will include increasing both quantity and quality of seed production. This will range from increased seed production to improved seed infrastructures. Dr Kashenge said the transformation aims at meeting the quality seed demand for many farmers and investors due to increased awareness and huge response on improved seeds.
Citing an example, she said for the past five years, ASA has increased production of improved seeds from 784 metric tones per annum five years ago to more than 2,947 metric tones currently. Similarly, the number of seed plantations increased from three plantations to 14 farms.
The ASA chief executive said that the agency is also planning to increase the number of seed plantations to have enough plantations for seed production. “We think that the population is increasing but the size of the land remains the same. In the next five to six years, there will be shortage of land for expansion of our plantations” she said. “We have also increased utilization of the seed plantations. At least 10 seed plantations are currently effectively used to produce improved seeds,” she said.
ASA has also embarked on establishment of massive and modern production infrastructures and farm implements. For example, in the past five years, ASA had only one tractor that had to rotate from one farm to another to cover all the plantations. The tractor could move from Msimba , Mwele, Tanga and Dabaga Iringa but today, the number of tractors have increased to of 9 and are all working well on the plantations.
She said that ASA is also establishing hardware for seed storage. Several hardware have so far been built in three farms and others have been rehabilitated. The seed Agency has also expanded areas of drying seeds on almost four farms.
We have also increased housing facilities for our staff and workers. These are the plans to be implemented this year and we believe these plans are going to transform seed production and availability to the farmers in the country.
Dr Kashenge called on the communities surrounding the seed plantations to seek improved seeds and plant in their respective fields so that they don’t spoil the improved seeds from the Agency farms.
She said that seed is a key input for improving crop production and productivity. Improved seed is pivotal in improvement of food security and farm household livelihood. Increasing the availability and quality of seeds can increase the yield potential of the crop by significant folds and thus, is one of the most economical and efficient inputs to agricultural development.
Dr Kashenge said she ASA has seen personal commitment President Samia Suluhu Hassan not only on strategic crops such as Maize, cotton, cassava, Sun flower, Oil Palm, Sisal but in all crops. ASA has also witnessed promotions of private sector involvement on local seed production as well as promoting friendly seed production environment, all these have contributed to the increasing trend for improved seed produced locally in the country.