VALENTINE OFORO, DODOMA
THE Tanzania Livestock Research Institute (TALIRI) is planning to improve research and expand its capacity on the production of seeds for forages with a major ambition to start generating seeds for various legumes’ forages.
Scientifically, different from other pastures, legume pastures possess high proteins and other potential nutrients, highly recommended for the productivity of dairy and meat cattle.
The vital initiative targets more researches and production of seeds for key legume forages, including Medication Sativa (alfalfa), Macroptium Atropurpureum (siratro), and Critoria Ternatea (blue pea).
The envisaged development will see the state-owned institute expand acreage at its seed farms from the current 20 acres to at least 50, the move which is projected to advance seed production from 200kg to 500kg annually.
According to TALIRI’s Director of Technology Transfer Directorate, Dr. Jonas Kizima, the initiative was geared to assist the government to reduce the high expenditure it uses in importing Brachiaria varieties from abroad, especially from Brazil, currently at 40USD per 1kg.
He said the use of pastures among the livestock keepers in Tanzania is still very low, the poor trend which retards the smooth metamorphosis of the key sub-sector in which the industrial economy drives hinges on.
“Our target is to major into intensive research of the legume fodder varieties in order to, later on, be inspected and finally certified by the Tanzania Official Seeds Certification Institute (TOSCI), the move which will enable us to generate more seeds,” Dr. Kizima expressed.
He observed that the county was facing a significant shortage and uses of improved pastures due to among others, the absence of few farm seeds and as well as private companies that deal with pasture seeds production.
“In Tanzania, there are only a few pasture seeds producing farms, those under the ministry of agriculture and the ones owned by TALIRI,” he observed.
However, as part to improve the situation, he informed that the institute, in cooperation with International Livestock Research Institute (ILIRI) was also implementing another special program to advance production and accessibility of forage among livestock keepers within the country.
Dubbed ‘Adaptation and Association Mapping Studies on Tanzania Brachiaria ecotypes, the timely initiatives are being implemented under the programs of Biosciences East and Central Africa (BecA) Hub, and it involves the collection of brachiaria of different ecotypes from at least 20 regions.
“Home production of the forage varieties will be of potential because livestock keepers will be able to purchase the varieties at friendly and domestic prices, a move which will ultimately see major improvement of the sector, “he expressed.
According to him, the vital program targets to conduct on-station evaluation of the collected brachiaria of different ecotypes, in terms of their genetic characteristics and morphological assessments, with an eye to get the best varieties with high potential for livestock forage.
The regions in which the brachiaria of different ecotypes have been picked as Mtwara, Lindi, Morogoro, Coastal, Tanga, Dodoma, Manyara, Kilimanjaro, Arusha, Singida, Kagera, Mara, Mwanza, Kigoma, Geita, Rukwa, Tabora, Simiyu, Shinyanga and Katavi.
“As the country is heading towards an industrial economy, a need for major improvement and modernization of the livestock sector becomes vital. We are implementing this program in order to research and introduce best forage seed varieties, with much-needed nutrients for cattle, “he expressed.
Dr. Kizima said as per the program’s schedule, the best varieties to be picked from the selected brachiaria of different ecotypes from the said 20 regions will, later on, be forwarded to the Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) for certification approval.
So far, he informed that TALIRI has picked its four centres to perform a professionally on-station evaluation of the collected brachiaria of different ecotypes. The center, according to him, is TALIRI- Tanga, TALIRI-Mabuki, TALIRI-Mpwapwa and TALIRI-Uyole Mbeya.
He expressed high optimism that the ongoing program will meet the targeted end results and hence contribute highly to the advancement of the country’s livestock sector.