Institute’s national coordinator for sunflower research, Frank Reuben said TARI at Ilonga Centre has developed a key road map to produce a total of 45 tonnes of pre- basic and basic seeds, to be distributed to different seeds companies for mass production.
Among the targeted seed companies are Agriculture Seed Agency (ASA), BioSustain Tanzania Limited, TERMAR, RUDDI, AGRI-SEED Technologies, Southern Highland Seed Growers, Lima Africa, Inades, Agricpays Tanzania Ltd, and registered farmers working with Clinton Foundation, World Vision Tanzania including other companies as well.
"The companies will be responsible to produce at least 4,500 tonnes of seeds, to be certified by the Tanzania Official Seeds Certification Institute (TOSCI)," he expressed.
He added, as per the planned schedule, the produced tonnes of seeds will be used to produce 2 million tonnes of sunflower grains for processing.
"The initiative is projected to play paramount role in helping the county containing shortage of edible oil, as well as reduce importation of sunflower seed varieties," he observed.
Reuben further unveiled other strategies on pipeline to be executed by the center with an eye to ensure for mass production of enough sunflower seeds, noting that plans are afoot for the center to embark on a major research programme to invent improved and hybrid seed varieties.
"At the center's Germplasm, we're currently possessing genetic conservation of 300 genotypes, to be used for the conduction of key researches in order to produce improved and hybrid sunflower seed varieties," he asserted.
He observed that the country's sunflower sub-sector has been experiencing lackluster development due to several challenges, among others, include absence of Agriculture Research and Communication Center (CGR) internationally for sunflower, as well as lack for enough funds.
However, TARI-Ilonga, has so far researched and invented at least two new sunflower improved seed varieties, which are in multiplication stage now to be distributed to farmers across the county.
The varieties are TARI-ILO 2019 and TARI-NA 2019. The varieties are of high yield of grains and oil, resistant to pests and diseases, but also are tolerant to drought condition.
"These are appropriate seed varieties for small scale and large-scale farmers. The reason is that, these seeds allow farmers to produce and distribute them in Quality Declared Seed (QDS) class within their farming community under the Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) supervision,” Reuben unveiled.
The Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP), in 2016 indicated that, sunflower is the most likely subsector to yield investable opportunities in Tanzania.