Tanzania Mulls Research on Landrace Seeds Varieties

Tanzania’s Ministry of agriculture contemplates a specific research project on the landrace seeds varieties that prove to flourish well in different agricultural zones in the country.

The development focuses to ensure the country’s natural seed varieties will not become extinct.

The study will involve the identification of the seeds in question, as well as characterization to determine their distinctiveness, uniformity and stability.

The planned new development in the country’s seeds industry was announced at a roundtable meeting between the director of crops in the ministry of agriculture, Nyasebwa Chimagu, with and members of the Tanzania Women Farmers Forum (TWFF).

The Director of crops insisted that the ministry will continue to highly concentrate on research, production and promotion of improved (hybrid) seeds varieties, and the Open Pollinated Varieties (OPV).

He observed that the varieties are important for the development of the agriculture sector in the country.

“The government is also keen to continue conducting useful research and promotion of organic fertilizers and bio-pesticides. The vision is to research and produce both, hybrid and landrace seeds varieties in order to give farmers room to opt whether to apply local seeds or improved ones, although so far, experience have proved use of improved varieties to be more productive in terms of crop yields, as well as resistant to diseases,”

Nyasebwa Chimagu

Members of Tanzania Women Farmers Forum (TWFF) had sought to have an audience with the ministry of agriculture, in order to bring to his attention, problems being faced in their daily farming activities.

The roundtable meeting was supported by Action Aid Tanzania.

Samwely Mkwatwa, Project Manager at Action Aid Tanzania explained that the event was meant to create a helpful platform for enabling the women farmers to directly table their problems and grievances as well as ensuring that they get permanent solutions for the same.

The farmers thus aired numerous challenges that need to be addressed in order to allow majority of peasants in the country to be more productive in agriculture.

Problems facing farmers include delay in provision of subsidy-fertilizers to farmers, poor use and promotion of bio-pesticides and organic fertilizers, and unnecessary complications in accessing loans from financial institutions.

Fredina Said, a farmer from Kishapu, Shinyanga, in her presentation challenged the government to promote use of local seeds, and organic (manure) fertilizers in order to cut huge financial burden of importing and distributing chemical fertilizers in areas where farmers can successfully apply manure fertilizers to still yielding bumper.

“In some areas of the country farmers do not prefer using chemical fertilizers. They prefer using manure ones and still they realize a good harvest, and thus, it is incumbent for the government to train the agricultural extension officers on how best to produce and apply the fertilizers,” she challenged.

She further expressed the other challenge, saying the subsidy fertilizers being provided by the government are often reaching the farmers in improper seasons:

“Where possible, farm inputs including the fertilizers should reach the farmers during harvesting seasons, the time in which most of the farmers are usually standing a better financial side to afford paying for the fertilizers,”
Together with that, she urged the parent ministry to develop a friendly platform (setting a special control number) through which farmers can pay for the fertilizers whenever he/she has money to do so instead of waiting until cropping season.

Amina Dafi, a farmer from Singida region, raised concern over delay in accessing agricultural loans from eligible financial institutions, especially the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB).

“It’s very frustrating that when we apply loans (in terms of agro-inputs) at TADB for supporting us to attend our plantations, the loans are often taking too long to mature as we normally receiving it at improper times when we always finalized with all basic tasks, such as preparation of farms as well as cropping,” she raised.

For her part, Flora Mathias expressed concern over a negative wave of inactivity of a number of key agricultural projects within the country. She informed, a slim research conducted by TWFF) in different 20 municipal councils within the country had established that at least 60 key projects are not operating.

“For instance, in some areas warehouses that have been constructed by the government by millions of taxpayers’ money have ‘unfortunately’ turned into churches as well as offices for local government officers, this is unpatriotic and weakens the performance of the sector,” she divulged.

However, in his general, director of crop Nyasebwa Chimagu who was speaking on behalf of minister Bashe insisted that the parent ministry was aware and working round the clock to remove all barriers impeding the farmers in the country to produce smoothly.

Giving supplement responses, Eng. Juma Mdeke, the director of land use planning and management at the ministry of agriculture said the vision of the government was to capacitate local farmers and improve performance of all spheres of the agriculture with an eye to enable the sector to contribute to at least 10 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2030.