Use of improved cassava varieties to boost yields

TANZANIA Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) Naliendele Centre has urged district councils in the Southern Zone to invest heavily on use of improved cassava varieties to boost the crop production in the country.

Speaking here over the weekend, a researcher from TARI Naliendele Mr Festo Masisila said the plan would help increase production from the current 8.2 million tonnes per year to 24 million tonnes by 2030.

“We call upon the government at the district council’s level to consider investing highly into the cassava sub-sector by using improved cassava varieties to boost crop production in the country,” he said.

He said the plan should go in line with planning and providing a special budget to purchase the improved varieties to improve availability and accessibility of the improved varieties among farmers.

The researcher said the institute has developed over eight improved varieties that have been approved and released by Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) mainly to boost cassava production in the country.

He said the varieties are high-yielding, resistant to pests and disease, tolerant of environmental stress.

He named the varieties as TARICASS 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Others are Mkuranga, Chereko, Kiroba, Kipusa and Mkumba varieties.

Mr Masisila said the new (improved) varieties yield up to three times more than the old local varieties.

“The improved varieties have an average yield of 22 tonnes per hectare compared to the old local varieties that yield 8 tonnes per hectare,” he said.

He pointed out the Mkumba variety that yields more than 50 tonnes.

“Other improved planting materials such as TARICASS 4 yield more than 30 tonnes per hectare, Kiroba yields 30,” he said, noting that if district councils invests thoroughly on use of the improved varieties the country would be able to boost production and meet the state’s target of producing 24 million tons by 2030.

The National Cassava Development Strategy (NCDS) 2020-2030 calls for transformation of cassava into modernised, commercialized and profitable sub-sector for food and nutrition security and income general.

According to the researcher, the goal will be achieved through implementation of a number strategic objectives including improved availability and accessibility of cassava improved seeds alongside other inputs.

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