Minister wants new bean varieties distributed to farmers

22Jun 2018
Edward Qorro
The Guardian
Minister wants new bean varieties distributed to farmers

MINISTER for Agriculture Dr Charles Tizeba has directed experts from agricultural research centres to expedite the process of providing farmers with new seed varieties that were launched yesterday.

MINISTER for Agriculture Dr Charles Tizeba

Speaking in Arusha where he officiated the release of Selian 14 and Selian 15 bean varieties that contain high iron and zinc, the minister said there should be no delay in the new seeds reaching farmers saying Tanzanians needed the new beans quickly to save the thousands of children and women suffering from iron deficiency.

"You're doing a commendable job in releasing new seed varieties, but the unnecessary delays in providing farmers with the seeds should be a concern," Said Dr Tizeba while addressing journalists at the Selian Agricultural Research Institute (SARI).

He further disclosed that the government had established the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI) to help scientists and agricultural experts coordinate research institutions in the country.

The establishment of the research institute was made possible by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, according to the minister.

On Wednesday, Tanzania joined several African countries in releasing the two high-iron climbing bean varieties, MAC 44 also known as Selian 14 and RW1129 (Selian 15).

The drive to release the high-iron beans was informed by the high prevalence of anaemia and malnutrition especially among under-fives, adolescent girls and expectant mothers.

According to the Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey and Malaria Survey Indicator Survey (TDHS-MIS) 2015/16 anaemia prevalence rate in children aged between six and 59 months stood at 58 per cent.

Iron deficiency is one of the most common micronutrient deficiencies in the world mostly affecting women, children and infants.

On his part, head of International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) Africa Dr Debisi Araba said the institution was ready to liaise with seed breeders and multipliers to ensure that the entire seeds system is delivered to the market without delay.

"We need to go beyond the farms and support the farmers economically," he said.

Dr Araba, said CIAT has operated in Tanzania since 1986 and that the new bean varieties released will also be spread to other African countries top benefit as many people as possible.

Dr Jean Claude Rubyogo , CIAT Tanzania coordinator said the release of the new beans will go a long way in helping the country deal with hidden hunger as well as the problem of iron deficiency among infants, adolescents and the expectant mothers.

“These are good efforts, the country can now deal with these problems. We shall ensure that enough has been provided so that as many farmers as possible get to plant the new varieties in the coming season,” Said Dr Rubyogo

The research and release efforts were led and facilitated by SARI in partnership with the Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) of Uyole and Maruku and CIAT.

The efforts were supported through partners at the pan African Bean Research Alliance (PABRA) and the Building Nutritious Food Baskets (BNFB) project, Tropical Legume III projects, Swiss Development Corporation (SDC), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Global Canada Affairs.

Apart from the two high-iron climbing bean varieties, SARI also released nine other bean varieties.

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