By VALENTINE OFORO, DODOMA

THE International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has been awarded the African Food Prize for 2021 due to its high commitment towards fostering better agriculture and food systems in the drylands of Asia and Sub- Saharan Africa, including in Tanzania.

The African Food Prize recognizes outstanding individuals or institutions that work towards changing agriculture in Africa, from subsistence farming to a successful enterprise.

In Tanzania, ICRISAT has been working closely with the Morogoro- based Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) to facilitate the implementation of diverse key agro- projects.

Others are Natural Agricultural Research System, International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).

” We take this opportunity to thank SUA for their support and close cooperation. This accolade, for which we have been deeply honoured would not have been possible without SUA’s generosity, both present and past,” appreciated Rebbie Harawa, Regional Director for ICRISAT- East and Southern Africa.

ICRISAT’s work in Africa has been true to its holistic approach that encompasses all aspects of smallholder farming. “Not only do we develop and disseminate improved varieties of our mandate crops that are suited to the local agro- ecology, we also empower farmers with access to Agricultural inputs, information, technologies as well as a market while simultaneously building policy advocacy for long-term sustainability,” expressed Harawa.

With support from ICRISAT through financial auspicious from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, SUA managed to conduct helpful research, titled ‘Climate Change, Commercialization of Gender divides: Alternative pathway for groundnut breeding in Semi-Arid Tanzania’

Professor Joseph Hella, a researcher at the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA)’ s department of Economics and Business studies said in recent years crop development programme has been caught in a paradox of climate change, food and nutrition needs, commercialization and gender participation in production.

“The research help to explore the challenges of a breeding programme to solve the mentioned paradox,” he explained.

He informed that the research, conducted by SUA in partnership with the Naliendele Agricultural Research Institute, the ministry of agriculture and the department of Planning, Monitoring and Statistics at the Shinyanga district council established that increasingly groundnut is becoming an important crop in Semi-Arid Tanzania for food and nutrition security and as a commercial crop for generating household income generation.

The Don unveiled that, moreover, the research found that although groundnut is not categorically mentioned as a priority crop in the country its contribution to household income, food and nutritional security is significant.

“In all districts surveyed, women and youth play a major role in production, processing and do some extent in marketing,” he expressed.

He added that the crop improvement program coordinated by Naliendele Research station has released a number of varieties, including Pendo, Mnanje, Mangaka, Masasi, and Nachingwea, with attributes such as high yielding, pest and disease resistant, early maturing, high oil content, moderated seed size and colour.

“Findings showed that, for nutrition purposes, small size with high oil content is more preferred than otherwise. Traders prefer large and grey coloured seeds and producers (mainly women) prefer varieties which are easy to harvest and shell,” Professor Hella informed.

Moreover, he added that changing rainfall patterns and increase in temperature on other hand, varying tastes of the consumers and gendered production attributes on the other have brought additional challenges for countrywide breeding initiatives.

“The paper concluded that the use of the multi-criteria approach in analyzing alternative pathways for groundnut breeding was not sufficient to provide unified results for the whole country because of multiple similarities along the analysis horizon. Hence location-specific breeding to accommodate the realized challenges is necessary for sustainable groundnuts production in Tanzania,” he detailed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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