Africa – New coffee varieties to boost output-ministry

The newly developed five coffee seed varieties may revive the ailing crop in the regions of Arusha and Kilimanjaro where it once thrived.

An official statement from the Ministry of Agriculture indicates that all new coffee seed varieties are of the Arabica form, the type mostly grown in the Northern Zone as opposed to Robusta which thrives in Bukoba.

The new coffee seeds, said to be able to withstand harsh climate conditions, resist diseases as well as take shorter period for their fruits to ripen, are among the-soon-to-be launched lineup of 26 new seed varieties for a total of nine different crops and the newly approved kernels are expected to be initially used in the next farming season of 2012-13.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Mohammed Muya who unveiled the new seeds in Arusha recently stated that the new improved seeds varieties will mark another revolution in the country’s agriculture sector because they have been made to be drought and disease resistant, take shorter ripening time as well as boasting double and triple yields per acre.

“The seeds are being put into production immediately so that farmers may start benefiting from the improved kernels this new season and we can confidently say from now henceforth Tanzania is to record bumper harvests and enhancing food security in the country,” said Muya.

The new seeds produced after years of research have just been approved by the Ministry of Agriculture through the National Seed Committee (NSC) which met in Arusha recently.

“The National Variety Release Committee (NVRC) had initially advised the ministry on the new seed variety and was the expert force behind the endorsement,” the PS explained.

The seed varieties include nine new seed varieties for maize, the country’s main staple, five types of coffee (Arabica) seeds, four new seed types for tea, four others for cassava, one for barley, one for millet and another new seed type for beans.

The new varieties are products of extensive research projects that were being conducted by the government owned research centers such as the Iringa-based Tea Research Institute of Tanzania (TRIT), Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TaCRI) of

Moshi, the Agricultural Research Institute (ARI-Uyole) of Mbeya and the Naliendele Agriculture Research Institute (NARI) of Mtwara.

Private firms that participated in the research programme include Suba Agro-Training and Engineering, Pioneer Overseas Corporation, Monsanto Tanzania Limited, Meru Agro-Tours and Consultants and Tanzania Breweries Limited.

The production of the new seed varieties will be undertaken by various kernel making firms, most of which are located in Arusha, under close supervision of the Ministry and be distributed throughout the country by the Agricultural Seed Agency (ASA).

Since the country’s independence over 50 years ago, agriculture has been the major economic bedrock for most Tanzanians. The sector recently received a boost through the new agrarian revolution ‘Kilimo Kwanza.’

The sector accounts for about half of the national income, three quarters of merchandise exports and is source of food and employment opportunities to about 80 percent of Tanzanians whose population has reached 42 million.

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