Improving access to well-adapted and high-yielding sorghum and finger millet varieties in Tanzania

Improving access to well-adapted and high-yielding sorghum and finger millet varieties in Tanzania

Ms Veronica Simeon a seed farmer in her farm. Earnings from her farm helped her move into a new residence

Ms Veronica Simeon a seed farmer in her farm. Earnings from her farm helped her move into a new residence

As part of the collaborative activities between ICRISAT and the Department of Research and Development (DRD) Tanzania, several on-farm activities were planned and executed in central Tanzania for the season 2013-2014.

The sorghum hybrids (IESH 22012 and ATX 623 x Macia) were the first to be released in Tanzania. These hybdrids are well suited to the the dry lowland agro-ecologies of the country. They were released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, as a result of the collaboration between NACO Seed Company and ICRISAT.

To achieve this, a total 15 sorghum and 15 finger millet participatory variety selection (PVS) sites were set up in Singida and Iramba. Fifteen sites were allocated for participatory hybrids selection (PHS).

The activities were carried out under the Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement (HOPE) of Sorghum and Millets project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) funded Sorghum Multipurpose Use (SMU) project.

ICRISAT’s Drs Henry Ojulong and Eric Manyasa and DRD’s Drs Frida Mgonja and Elias Letayo visited the two districts to assess the performance of the trials and seed production farms.

Rainfall during the season was relatively normal but less in Iramba than in Singida district. At all the PVS and PHS sites, farmers showed a strong interest in the released varieties NACO Mtama 1, Macia and the new varieties ICSV 111 IN and IESV 92008 DL for their good grain color and big panicles.

Likewise, the two released hybrids were the most preferred with IESH 22012 being preferred at one site in Iramba district. Other than being early and with good grain colour and yield potential, these hybrids had very low levels of stem borer damage.

Mr S Dule in his striga-free field of sorghum treated with farmyard manure.

Mr S Dule in his striga-free field of sorghum treated with farmyard manure.

In finger millet, farmers preferred varieties P224 and UFM 149 for their big heads and varieties Acc 14, KNE 628 and KNE 688 for good head shape, no lodging and good grain color. All the sorghum PVS and PHS were combined with water management option of tied ridges.Striga management using striga resistant varieties (Wahi and Hakika) and farmyard manure were demonstrated at various sites. At Ngamu village in Singida, Mr Shaban Dule, a farmer, was elated when he observed less than 10% striga infestation on resistant variety Hakika in a field which had more than 80% infestation on a local variety last season.

The team also visited Mpambaa Seed multiplication farm in Singida district where a regional finger millet trial is under evaluation. This site has been selected for testing technologies for northern and Central Tanzania, as it truly represents the two agro-ecologies and has staff to manage the trials.

The activity was undertaken as part of the CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Cereals.