ZANZIBAR’S rice production has increased sevenfold in a decade, thanks to the research on rice seeds conducted by the Tanzania Atomic Energy Commission (TAEC).
TAEC Nuclear Technology Senior Researcher Mr Simon Mdoe said at the on-going Nanenane exhibitions, northern zone, in Themi grounds in Arusha that the new rice seeds ‘Super Bc’ obtained through genetic mutation breeding has increased rice output in Zanzibar to about 80 bags per hectare from 19 when using traditional seeds.
“The study that started in 2009 on rice super Bc seed has impacted positively on increased rice yields in Zanzibar compared to the period when farmers used traditional seeds,” Mr Mdoe said over the weekend.
This has guaranteed farmers sufficient food and increased earnings from the surplus. He said the commission initiated the research of rice seeds in collaboration with Zanzibar Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI) and Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) in the genetic mutation of rice seed breeding that have yielded high output. He said after getting the positive results, they shared with some institutions that invited seed shops in Zanzibar for distributing to farmers. Mr Mdoe said also the other results included the good taste and flavour of rice from Super Bc seeds.
“The research has also shown that the Super Bc seeds to be resistant from pests,” he said. Currently, he said TAEC in collaboration with SUA in research of other rice seeds, other than Super Bc, taking into consideration the climate of various parts of the country where rice is grown.
The process of genetic mutation of rice seeds is being done at the Ilonga Research Institute in Morogoro Region and Mati in Uyole Mbeya Region.
Other studies are done on maize and barley seeds at the SELIAN Institute in Arusha. TAEC and Tanzania Horticulture Association (TAHA) are doing feasibility study on how to introduce genetic mutation breeding on perishable goods like vegetables, fruits and flowers to conserve them for a long time, thus promoting its market value.
Statistics show that over 40 per cent of vegetables and fruits take short time to rot due to lack of radiation technology. Other studies are being conducted in animals like cows in order to increase productivity of meat and milk.
On his part, the TAEC Head of Communication Peter Ngamilo said the commission was expecting to introduce Linear Accelerator machine for producing radiation for using in industries, medical treat