New hope as sunflower project kicks off to boost better seeds

Funded by the Agricultural Market Development Trust (AMDT), the project is an integration of a public research institute and private seed companies on sunflower seed production.

Launching the project over the weekend, Morogoro Regional Deputy Administrative Secretary Rosalia Rwegasira said rising high edible oil prices have forced the government to invest in sunflower production to cope with the edible oil shortage, where it contributes 87% of all edible oil produced. in the countryside.

Other sources of edible oil are peanuts, sesame and palm oil, she said, adding, “I request all stakeholders in this project to provide training, best practices and good post-harvest management”.

Dr. Rosalia also instructed the bold collaborating seed companies to ensure they work hard to ensure the country’s goals for self-sufficiency in edible oil are met.

In turn, the project complements ongoing research and development in the seed sector by focusing on the breeding and production of pre-basic, basic and certified sunflower seed for the targeted area.

The TARI Ilonga center will implement the project with a registered local seed company that has a good track record and will work with a well-established local seed company with a clear marketing strategy to get seeds into the hands of smallholder farmers. The three pilot private seed companies targeted are BioSustain Tanzania Ltd (Central Zone), Highland Seed Growers Ltd (Southern Highland) and Aminata Quality Seeds and Consultancy Company Limited (Eastern Zone).

National Sunflower Crops Coordinator Frank Reuben said the goal of the project is to strategically improve the availability, accessibility and affordability of improved seed varieties of sunflower, including hybrid sunflower varieties, among small sunflower growers for increased productivity and production.

“The project aims to increase the production and availability of different classes of sunflower seeds in the country by commercializing the three varieties currently available (2 new and record),” he said, noting that the project aims to maintain sunflower parent lines with specific characteristics such as oil content, disease resistance and seed yield potential.

It was also to produce different classes of sunflower seeds and distribute them to partner companies for marketing in Tanzania and other countries for sustainability purposes, to build the capacity of local seed companies to be able to produce the seeds under the close supervision of TARI and above all, the two newly launched varieties are demonstrated and popularized in all the regions of the project.

He said TARI should undertake a research and breeding program with the aim of establishing at least three varieties of hybrid sunflower seeds. Initial work has begun where the germplasm has been conserved and is to be planted. This will be an ongoing work and will take about four years before we have the sunflower hybrid varieties in the country and the parent lines owned by the Tanzanian government.

TARI Ilonga will undertake production of three currently available sunflower varieties (2 new registered in 2020 and RECORD) and produce enough foundation seed to distribute or sell to local seed companies. Local seed companies will multiply certified seeds

TARI Ilonga will ensure that seeds produced by local seed companies pass germination tests and other TOSCI requirements

The local seed companies and TARI Ilonga will establish the demand activation plan and the marketing plan.

TARI will provide technical support to local seed companies to establish a seed extension and demonstration plan for the 3 varieties in all project regions. Local seed companies will offer contract farming to farmers who will later buy grain and secure the market for them. Companies will provide post-harvest handling; processing, packaging and distribution to farmers through farmer groups, organizations and individual farmers. The companies will also train farmers in good agronomic practices.

TARI Ilonga will work with local seed company partners in the main zones initially focusing on the central, southern highland and eastern zones and then moving to the other zones which are the north, south,

Head of TARI, Dr. Richard Kasuga, said the institute strives to generate and promote the application of agricultural knowledge, innovation and technology as a catalyst for change in achieving productivity. agriculture, food and nutrition security, sustainable agriculture and economic growth.

AMDT Executive Director Charles Ogutu explained that the TARI project is a game-changer – It is accelerating the availability of improved sunflower seed to farmers. The mission of the trust is to trigger large-scale, systemic change in agricultural market systems that are essential for the productive poor.

The AMDT develops all markets relevant to the productive poor, ie markets for inputs, services and products. He works with market players who help develop markets where the productive poor, especially farmers, can profitably participate and he is a catalytic investor. Leverage, create incentives and empower market actors in weak or failing markets to work better with the productive poor.

The director of the TARI Ilonga center, Dr. Lameck Makoye, said that TARI Ilonga has the technical and human resources to implement the project. TARI Ilonga’s mandate is to conduct and coordinate crop research on cereals: low and medium altitude maize, sorghum and millet, grain legumes: cowpea, green gram, pigeon pea, soybean, chickpea and bambara nuts. Others are oilseed crops such as sunflower and post-harvest technologies.

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