TARI partners with AATF,HEAL to improve seed varieties,rice production

15Jul 2021
The Guardian
TARI partners with AATF,HEAL to improve seed varieties,rice production

​​​​​​​THE Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) is implementing a new project aimed at scaling up production of rice in the country.

The project is carried at its Morogoro based Dakawa centre with funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The project which is being implemented collaboratively with the African Agricultural Technological Foundation (AATF), Hybrid East Africa Limited (HEAL) through the Alliance for Hybrid Rice in Africa (AHyRA) focuses on enhancing farmers' access to hybrid rice technologies and promoting adoption of hybrid seeds in the Tanzania and Kenya.

It is implemented through public private partnerships and it incorporates testing of the hybrid rice varieties in different agro-ecological zones to ensure that farmers have the best varieties to maximize rice yields.

The AATF and HEAL hybrid yield up to 12 hactares compared to Open pollinated varieties (OPV) that yield 8 metric tonnes

Dubbed 'Hybrid Rice Project', the project has beed dubbed a timely initiative which has attracted at least 400 farmers in Dakawa Township of Mvomero District in Morogoro region targets to introduce the hybrid rice seed varieties with better grain quality, good aroma as well as high yields, among others.

Through the project, four hybrid rice varieties are under multilocational trials in Tanzania and best performing hybrids that are preferred by farmers will be submitted for evaluation by the Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) before certification.

At the special irrigation scheme in Dakawa,  estimated to the tune of 5000 acres, TARI has earmarked a least 100 hactare specifically for undertaking research and seed trials with the deal to ensure the rice farmers and processors in the country with wide choice of rice varieties.

Speaking during a special farmer's field day, tailored among others to give the involved farmers a platform to select the best seed varieties, Dr. Jerome Mghase, manager for TARI- Dakawa Center, and observed that despite being among best countries for the production of rice in East Africa.

He said the country has been endowed with favorable weather to support cultivation of rice but the sub sector is crippled with shortage of enough hybrid seed varieties and needed agronomic practices among the farmers.

During the 2019/2020, the country managed to heighten rice production from 2.2 metric tonnes to at least 4.4 metric tonnes.

"In Tanzania, rice production sector is also crippled with poor adoption of improved seed varieties among the fat as statistics depicts that only 28 percent of fart are using the improved seeds. Among others to this project gears to sensitize the day to start using the better seeds so as to improve production," he expressed.

For his part, Barnabas Sitta, researcher at TARI - Dakawa Center, said the project was majoring to produce seed varieties with focus to quench a thirst of rice market driven traits.

The focus, according to him, was to produce the varieties that will commercials enable the country to compete highly in the world rice market, but also, fueling efforts by the country to attain the much needed food security.

Edith Kouko, Project Office for Hybrid Rice Project' from Kenya, detailed that the project is working with private seed companies and other key partners along the rice value chain through AHyRA to ensure  professional development, promotion and sustainability of hybrid rice technologies towards rice sufficiency in Africa.

 “Hybrid rice technology is one of the fastest means of achieving food security as the significant increase in productivity has a huge potential in meeting the rapidly increasing consumption rates across the continent," she explained.

Tanzania's rice statistics shows that at least 71 of rice in Tanzania is grown under rain fed conditions with about half of the county's rice is grown by 239, 000 smallholder farmers in Tabors to Shinyanga, and Morogoro regoions in the central corridor.

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