New oil palm seedlings raise hopes of farmers

10Feb 2020
Gerald Kitabu
Mtwara
The Guardian
New oil palm seedlings raise hopes of farmers

IMPROVED oil palm seedlings developed by the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) are said to be a game-changer likely to spur palm cultivation and processing of oil countrywide.

Mtwara Regional Commissioner Gelasius Byakanwa (C) plants improved seedlings of Oil Palm to launch a special centre at TARI-Naliendele for production and dissemination of improved seedlings of Oil Palm called TENERA variety for the farmers in the Southern Zone. With him are TARI directors and other researchers. Photo: Correspondent Gerald Kitabu

At the launching of a centre for production and dissemination of the seedlings at TARI-Naliendele in Mtwara Region, Regional Commissioner Gelasius Byakanwa urged oil palm stakeholders to make the most of the improved seedlings to improve productivity.

Its improved seedlings known as tenera are meant for distribution to farmers in the southern zone.

The RC said TARI is a silent giant which is currently the backbone of agriculture as it is doing a commendable job in research activities, with its positive results lacking the element of commercialization.

If TARI comes up with a write-up or project proposal it is likely to be funded and help establish manufacturing industries as the Institute has the land, skills, experience and capacity to control the quality chain, he stated.

He said what will be required is to recruit the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), marketing and advertising managers who have business knowledge on how to effectively and efficiently run the business and researchers remain in their capacity of doing more research.

 

“I know you are an Institute that stands a better chance to establish manufacturing industries. If you have no funds, I could even volunteer to request President John Magufuli to provide the funds for commercialization of the research results,” he said.

“We have witnessed your good research results in different areas and products but I am telling you openly that there is no point to always express pride of your good research results without commercializing them. It is like a boxer who always boasts of beating his opponent verbally but does not fight. This is meaningless,” he remarked.

He also pointed out the need to nurture and promote smallholder edible oil processors so that they can grow up into larger producers to meet edible oil internal demand instead of importing the product.

 “We who have seen great work you are doing in research we know exactly why you should be called, a silent giant. And I think you have not been promoted to the level you deserve,” he declared.

“You have qualified experts who are doing research and coming up with raw materials that can help the country’s industrialization drive,” the RC intoned.

If Tanzanians can decide and desirously venture into profitable agriculture of major edible oil crops such as coconut and sesame, the  c0untry will be self sufficient in edible oil production, he stated.

Earlier, TARI Director General Dr. Geoffrey Mkamilo explained that the launching of the new centre follows a directive from Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa in Kigoma on 28th July 2018.

One of the challenges that topped the agenda especially on the value chain was the availability of improved oil palm seed, he said, pointing out that in Kigoma region, locals were growing the dura variety which has a low yield potential.

So, one of the decisions reached was that TARI as an agricultural research institute should produce improved commercial oil palm variety (Tenera) and supply it to farmers in Coast region, Lindi, Mtwara and Ruvuma.

“That’s why today, the government is launching this special centre at TARI-Naliendele for production and dissemination of improved seedlings of oil palm for farmers in the southern zone,” he stated.

All these interventions are aimed at capacitating the nation to be self sufficient in edible oil production, he em0phasized.

“This is the government’s directive. We want to stop dependence on imported oil from Costa Rica, Malaysia and other countries. Look, the cost of importing edible oil is estimated at 443bn/- annually but basically if we effectively and efficiently use this potential land and produce locally, we can meet the requirements and retain a surplus,” the director noted. 

TARI Kihinga Centre director and national coordinator for oil palm research, Dr. Filson Mbezi Kagimbo, said that farmers in the southern regions should be happy in adding another giant crop, oil palm. Experience shows that oil palm thrives well in the southern regions only that the farmers had inadequate knowledge on the crop, he stated.

 Coast region are growing palm oil locally with poor seeds but now there are new and improved seeds which are a hybrid type. Farmers should grab this opportunity, he urged.

TARI Naliendele Acting Director Dr. Fortunatus Kapinga assured farmers in the southern regions of availability of the seeds, saying they will soon be available for collecting and planting.

“This new crop will add to already existing crops like cashew nuts, groundnuts and maize as an alternative source of income,” he added.

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