Year 3 focus on promoting preferred varieties, sustaining seed supply mechanisms
With about 85% of the scheduled activities implemented and farmer preferences for improved varieties of sorghum and finger millet in the six HOPE project mandate districts in Tanzania established through PVS, demonstrations and field days, the third HOPE project planning meeting got off in Arusha, Tanzania from 6-7 September planning activities for the third year, especially for the next cropping season that starts in November 2011 and ends in June 2012.
The third year’s focus will be on promoting preferred varieties identified in PVS; initiating and sustaining seed supply mechanisms through variety release; production and distribution of certified seed through seed companies and their agents, and stimulating production and distribution of community-based seed.
Held by the Department of Research and Development (DRD) through the Selian Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) along with ICRISAT-ESA, the opening session saw Dr Mary Mgonja from ICRISAT-ESA and Dr Friddah Mgonja, National HOPE Project Coordinator in Tanzania review the project activities for the five objectives – baseline survey, sorghum breeding, finger millet breeding, market linkage and technology delivery, and seed supply. Major production challenges such as the problem of birds, limited availability of quality seeds, and unreliable product markets were discussed.
The meeting was attended by 25 partner participants from both public and private institutions in Tanzania. The public institutions were represented by SARI, Lake Zone Agricultural Research Development Institute (LZARDI) in Ukiriguru; Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) in Uyole; ARI-Makutupora; and ARI-Humbolo and District Agricultural and Livestock Development Offices (DALDOs) from Singida Rural, Kondoa, Kishapu, Iramba, and Rombo. SUBA-Agro and SEEDCO Tanzania Ltd and Tanzania Association of Seed Traders (TASTA) represented the private sector.
At the end of the meeting, 1,500 kg of foundation seed of sorghum varieties Macia, KARI Mtama1, Hakika, Wahi, Tegemeo, Pato and Sima and 500 kg of foundation seed of finger millet varieties U15, UFM149, and P224 were given away for community-based seed production in the six districts.
Also outlined was the need to improve farmer linkage to input and output markets. Two collaborating farmer groups each from the six mandate districts were identified for training in postharvest handling techniques. They will subsequently be linked to East African Breweries Ltd (EABL), Nyirefam and other processors and traders for improved sorghum and finger millet grain marketing. The same groups will also be linked to credit and input supply institutions in the mandate districts. It was also agreed that all research trial materials from ICRISAT for the next cropping season starting in November 2011 would reach the six districts by October 2011.