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Use of fertilisers to revitalise cassava production

WITH modern methods of cassava farming in the country, farmers are set to increase their crop production from the ordinary 10 tonnes per hectare to 60 tonnes.

In a recent tour to cassava farmers in Kisarawe District organised by International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), experts expressed their optimism of reaching greater heights in cassava production in Tanzania if modern farming methods are applied.

Speaking during the tour, the Director General of Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), Geoffrey Mkamilo said that with the proper use of advanced fertilisers, cassava farmers can boost their production and manage to move from imminent poverty.

“In a country like Tanzania, cassava crop is very important, but it is unfortunate that for years farmers have been using traditional outdated methods, which result in poor production.

But if they can use modern methods, they can easily increase their crops by almost 60 per cent,” he said.

He noted that in sub-Saharan Africa where cassava is an important staple crop for millions of people, research has played a leading role in developing improved cassava varieties that are disease and pest resistant, lower in cyanide, drought resistant, early maturing, and high yielding.

He said that with the Chinese showing an increased interest in Tanzanian cassava, it is high time farmers move from their traditional methods and start applying modern technology which involves the use of fertilisers to increase production.

On his part, the African Cassava Agronomy Initiative (ACAI) Regional Communications Coordinator, David Ngome said that in a five year project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, they are looking for ways of improving cassava production in the country, where farmers can increase their production from the usual 10 to 60 tonnes per hectare.

He said that with the use of nitrogen phosphorous and potassium (NPK) fertiliser, research has clearly indicated that farmers stand to increase their average production if they use the recommended dosage.

One of the farmers who is under the project, Petro Kagusi of Mzenga Village in Kisarawe District said that with the use of fertilisers, he has been able to increase production, saying that while using traditional methods he was able to harvest less than 10 tonnes per hectare.

He said that under the project, extension officers guide them on the proper methods of clearing their farms, spacing, weeding, planting and fertiliser application, saying that if more farmers joined the project then the country can realise more cassava yields.

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Author: ANTHONY TAMBWE

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