Five improved varieties of groundnut and three of sorghum with the best market traits were selected for active promotion in Tanzania after discussions with AVISA project partners and all stakeholders along the value chain. This is to build on the adoption to date of improved varieties for 11 of groundnut and 8 of sorghum varieties through the Tropical Legumes project.
Participants agreed to focus on varieties that were selected for their market traits, such as processing characteristics, palatability, nutrition, high yield, early maturity, grain quality (seed color, size and shape), pest and disease tolerance, and utilization and adaptability potential (details in box).
Mr Joseph Nzunda, National Coordinator of Oil Seed Research Program, Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), said that the practice of recycling seed and sharing of the same existing varieties amongst farmers was one of the main contributors to the low adoption rate of new groundnut varieties which in turn has deterred seed enterprises from taking up groundnut seed production. Mr Nzunda called on the National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) in Tanzania to work on improving adoption of improved varieties for the benefit of farmers, agro-dealers and seed companies.
The inadequate availability of sorghum seed was also discussed at the meeting. To enhance the availability of new sorghum varieties, TARI Ilonga and TARI Tumbi said they have submitted four sorghum varieties for National Performance Trials. These varieties are expected to be out in the next two years for use by various stakeholders.
Mr Isaiah Gabriel, Project Coordinator, Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA), Nigeria, said that public-private partnerships are essential to develop and sustain the seed industry in Africa. “SFSA will increase efficiency and scale, leverage research and innovation, create linkages with seed companies, develop partnerships in promoting the use and adoption of improved seeds, and engage the private sector to achieve AVISA goals,” he said.
“AVISA aims to accelerate the rate of genetic gain in mandate crops to an estimated 1.5% annually; integrate CGIAR/NARS programs through a stage-gate breeding decision and informatics support system; align legume and cereal crop improvement, seed production and delivery systems for gender-responsiveness and end-user demands and preferences; and facilitate increased and equitable rate of varietal turnover,” said Project Coordinator, Dr Chris Ojiewo.
ICRISAT Seed Systems Specialist, Dr Essegbemon Akpo, led the participants in developing a tentative list of seed companies to partner with, and a work plan for each organization involved in the implementation namely – TARI; Agricultural Seed Agency (ASA), Tanzania Seed Trade Association (TASTA); Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI); NGOs and farmer-based organizations; private seed companies; learning institutions; and farmer groups.
ICRISAT Gender Scientist, Dr Esther Njuguna, said that for gender integration into seed systems, the project is looking for gender partners in Tanzania – a seed company that is building a women/youth program, grain traders and a learning team.
The AVISA National Planning and Stakeholders Engagement meeting for Tanzania Groundnut and Sorghum Programs was held recently and was attended by over 40 participants.