Tanzania unveiled drought resistant rice variety
Nov. 13, 2013
Head of Ifakara Research Institute (IRI) and regional coordinator for rice, Mr Nkori Kibanda said that the seeds research took about five years, commencing in 2009 before they were released at the beginning of this year.
The new seed varieties are NERICA 1,2,4,7, WAB-12-2, WAB450, BL1 and DV4 are suitable for dry areas of agriculture both in central and northern areas of the country including Shinyanga, Musoma, Ifakara, Dodoma, among others.
"The seeds varieties will help to boost food sufficiency in the country because not only are they drought tolerant but also produce high outputs," stressed Mr Kibanda.
The seeds water consumption is very low, producing up to 3.5 tonnes per hectare compared to the traditional seeds which can only produce 0.5 to one tonne per hectare.
Currently, the country produces one million tonnes of rice annually and imports another one million tonnes of rice to meet its domestic demand.
However, analysts say the government should reduce rice importation to motivate local farmers whose products cannot compete with the subsidised imported rice.
The new seeds are expected to double the production of rice in the country and therefore meet the level of demand following the rate of high yields it can produce. Recent reports show that North and Central regions of Tanzania are caught up in chronic and transitory food insecurity due to poor or no harvests.
Most of these areas are semi-arid or share the same ecological zone with the drought prone areas of East Africa. In another development, the Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) revealed recently that the short rains season which began in October to December forecast to be below normal in most parts of the country.
Farmers have been advised to plant early maturing and draught tolerant crops to make the most of the little water likely to be available.
Seeds varieties which are currently at the Agriculture Seed Agency for multiplication still retaining the seed purity will be distributed to farmers after completing the exercise.
According to Mr Kibanda, the agency is working with other producers in the private sector who are expected to be agents for multiplication. The seeds are expected to be available to farmers in the coming season.
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