TARI’s new millet seeds to improve food security

MBEYA: THE Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI)– Uyole Centre-has come up with new millet seeds for nutrition and food security promotion.

The research has been conducted under a-three-year (2022-2024) ‘Bold Finger Millet programme, under Norwegian government’s sponsorship, involving millet genetics from various countries.

Diabetic people are among beneficiary groups, since the millet contains higher fibers amount that prevent the harm to consumers.

The millet also contains enough iron and zinc that is important especially to pregnant mothers, Uyole Centre Director, Dr Dennis Tippe, told the journalists recently.

Again, he added, the available calcium in the millet is almost 30 times more than that in any other food, to help strengthening the unborn baby’s bones when a pregnant woman consumes it regularly.

Also read: TARI surpasses research target

“However, the new seeds are not yet operational as we now take them to Tanzania Official Seed Certification for approval and registration.

We have about nine candidates and believe that at-least three will be approved to let the farmers have new seeds as soon as possible.

“The aim is to make sure that not only special groups, but all members of the community benefit from nutritional values offered by these new seeds,” he said.

The millet is also for commercial purpose because the flour, which is in different colours, be it white, red and brown have proved to be suitable for biscuits, bread and ‘maandazi’ production, among others.

Coming to food security, Dr Tippe affirmed that only three to four kilogrammes of seeds provide roughly 3.5 tonnes per hectare, equal to between 16 and 18 sacks, compared to only seven to eight sacks that have been derived from traditional seeds.

The new seeds are also drought and disease tolerant. The harvests might also last between five to seven years in a granary, compared to other farm crops like maize and beans that have been easily attacked by minor pests.

“However, all modern farming principles must be applied to let these new seeds provide high quality and quantity of the outputs, a reason why we normally involve the farmers throughout all these research steps,” he said.

Mbeya District Commissioner (DC), Mr Beno Malisa, commented that people in Southern highlands have a lot to do with new millet seeds, especially when it comes to fighting stunting.

He called upon the farmers to regularly visit the research centre, to grasp the knowledge that will help them switch to commercial farming, on top of nutrition and food security matte

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