How ASA set to improve quality, quantity in seed production by 2022

14Apr 2021
The Guardian
How ASA set to improve quality, quantity in seed production by 2022

​​​​​​​AFTER registering laudable achievement in improving the amount of improved seed varieties of the country’s key food and economic cash crops, the Agricultural Seed Agency (ASA) eye to push its production to further heights.

In a period of four consecutive years ASA managed to improve its seed production levels from 557 tons during 2016/17 to at least 1,750 tons in 2019/20, the development which enabled the state-owned Agency to stand fifth amid the companies that produced improved seeds in the country during 2018/19.

The Guardian has conducted an exclusive with ASA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr. Sophia Kashenge over the Agency’s seeds production strategies for 2021/22 financial year.

In the 2021/22 year, Dr. Kashenge expressed that the Agency is expected to increase seeds production from between 1 and 1.8 tons to 1.8 and 2 and 1-8 per hectare.

“Moreover, general production of improved seed varieties is projected to improve from the current 1750 to 3750 tons by 2022,”she unveiled.

She added that ASA is planning to give special priority to increase seed production of the key economic cash crops, ranging from sunflower, oil palm and wheat.

“For instance, by June 2022 we are expecting to produce a total of 800,000 of improved palm oil seedlings. We’re also expecting to construct and improve warehouses for the professional storages of agricultural seeds,” Dr. Kashenge revealed.

In further efforts to push for the development of the vital economic sector, she CEO added that plans are afoot to construct an office and modern seed warehouse facilities at the Kilimi and Kilangali seed farms as well as renovating the warehouses at the Agency’s headquarters in Morogoro.

“We’re also planning to install a modern seed drying area at ASA’s headquarters,” she briefed.

Dr. Kashenge informed that the Agency was also planning to procure a modern seed package plants machines to be installed at the Agency’s Arusha based seed farm.

Expressing more development plans, Dr. Kashenge said ASA has anticipated to improve irrigation infrastructures, the robust project which is expected to see installation of modern irrigation schemes to the tune of at least 250 acreage at the different ASA’s seed farms with an eye to increase production.

“To improve efficiency in seed production, we’re expecting to procure four new cultivation modern tractors, four boom sprayers, and four harrows,” she detailed.

In efforts to sensitize over use of improved seeds within the country, the Agency is planning to build a special exhibition centre in the two central zone regions of Dodoma and Tabora to help training the farmers and other agricultural stakeholders on application of recommended improved varieties.

“We’re also planning to sponsor at least four of our staff to join with long-term agriculture at Degree and PHD levels,” Dr. Kashenge unveiled.

She unveiled that during the 2020/21 fiscal year the government injected the Agency with 5.35bn/- to help implementation of numerous projects under the Agricultural Sector Development Program (ASDP II).

She said the amount was spent in some key projects implemented, according to her included production of sunflower seeds, sesame, palm oil and wheat seedlings, procurement of a modern tractor, boom sprayer.

“The budget enabled the Agency to renovate and construct new warehouses, construct seedling buildings as well as installing a modern irrigation scheme,” she expressed.

During the 2019/20 fiscal year, the government mandated ASA to coordinate a strategic project for the production of improved seeds for the crop.

In a successful result, the State -owned Agency (ASA) has so far managed to produce at least 8,270tons of the crops’ seeds. “The seedlings were produced in a 38,000 hectares areas,” Dr. Kashenge said.

She said the Agency was currently packaging the seeds in special sachets, the new packaging system which has enabled the Agency to serve at least 25tons of seeds that used to be misplaced. “Through the new program, we have also managed to reduce seeds production costs from the earlier 96m/- to currently 42m/-,” she detailed.

Moreover, the Agency, during the past four years have produced a total of 342,000 seedlings of palm oil in a robust project targeting to supplement efforts by the government to curtail shortage of edible oil in the country.

The seeds were produced at an estimated 10,200 acreage and were freely distributed to the farmers in the four Districts of Kasulu, Kibondo, Kigoma Ujiji and Kigoma municipality in Kigoma Region.

To ensure the improved seeding, dubbed TENERA, are distributed to more farmers, ASA is currently coordinating procedures to start working with key registered seed agents in Kagera and Mbeya, in readiness for wide distribution of the palm oil seedlings.

Dr. Kashenge said the prospective agencies are expected to play a vital role in distributing the improved seedlings to the farmers in the regions in question.

“Presently, we’re continuing with mass production of the improved palm oil seedlings at the Agency’s seed farms in Bugaga – (Kasulu- Kigoma), Msimba (Kilosa- Morogoro), Mwele (Mkinga-Tanga) and at Mbozi farm, in Songwe region,” she detailed.

Similar efforts are being implemented to expand the Agency’s seed production areas by installing a special greenhouse for the production of the seedlings at the two farms in Mwele (Tanga) and Bugaga (Kigoma), according to the ASA’s CEO.

Divulging more successes, Dr. Kashenge said the farms that the Agency has obtained and their acreage in the brackets as Kilimi (1,115 acres), Msungura (250 acres), Mazizi (12 acres) and the Luhafwe farm (500 acres).

Dr. Kashenge explained that the new farms have increased the number of the seed farms to 13 from 8, bringing the total Agency’s seed production area to 10,115.2 hectares from 9,890.

“As demand for quality government seed keeps on skyrocketing to help accelerate production of enough food and crop based raw materials, we came aware over continued diminishing of suitable land for seed productions due to increased human population and activities and thus, we decided to initiate an effort to amass more land” she observed.

And she added: "The farms are increasingly surrounded by the fast-growing population. It is high time now that the seed farms are highly protected since they are prone to destruction. As part of urban greening these farms offers traditionally rural services in cities, thereby contributing to food resources as well as working to alleviate pressing social issues like poverty,"

"It also provides a way to create opportunities for employment and community-building for the people surrounding the fields. As part of greening, they present urban agriculture and provide a buffer for pollution and improve environmental (and well as human) health and well-being through the land-based carbon sink,” Dr. Kashenge said.

With a mandate to produce Government's seed, ASA, plus its land resources currently contributes to at least 28 percent of all seeds produced in Tanzania.

The current demand for seed in Tanzania stands at 186,500 tons in a year, but the amount that is being produced is only 71,000 tons.

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