MEDA is supporting cassava farmers in the targeted regions through its project—‘Best Cassava’ which among other things aims to ensure access to quality-assured, disease-resistant and higher yielding cassava seed varieties in the right quantities at an affordable price.
Cassava has been transitioning from a staple crop to a commercial crop generating economically sustainable livelihoods for farmers and is therefore increasingly crucial for agricultural sector transformation.
Addressing farmers who visited the Meda pavilion at the ongoing Nanenane agricultural exhibition at the Nyakabindi grounds in Simiyu Region, the organization’s Resident Project Manager, Stephen Magige said farmers have already started to benefit from the quality cassava seeds which are currently distributed in the regions.
Magige noted that farmers in Lake Zone regions have for years been facing challenges of poor quality seeds and pests, the thing that resulted in most of them stopping to cultivate the food and commercial crop.
He said previously, most of the cassava seeds were not resistant to pests.
“We have capacitated farmers to produce quality and disease-resistant seeds by using simple technologies. The new cassava varieties are also draught resistant,” he said mentioning the new seed varieties as Mkumba, Mkulanga-Wani and Holela.
Research associate at International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Juma Yabeja said the new cassava seed varieties currently used by farmers have been certified by the Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI).
He said seed producers do not need to carry them to market places, as they are sold direct from the farm, thus reducing costs.
According to Yabeja, the established electronic systems where all seed producers are registered with detailed information including location of their farms. He said through the system, interested buyers can easily trace the producer and but the seeds direct from the farm.
One of the farmers who engages in seed production, Veronica Sumbuka from Tarime-Rural District in Mara Region, said the new certified cassava varieties have resulted into increased yields whereas they now harvesting up to 7 tonnes of cassava per acre.
She said: “We now have the best cassava seeds which are draught and disease resistant,”
A farmer, Masunga Nandi from Bariadi District in Simiyu Region said the new seed varieties are different from traditional ones. He said the new varieties guarantee them with enough yields for food and business.
In Tanzania, cassava is cultivated in Mwanza, Mtwara, Lindi, Shinyanga, Tanga Ruvuma, Mara Kigoma, the coastal regions and Zanzibar.