The Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) made to public the new maize seed varieties that can tolerate drought. Addressing the meeting of Tanzania Seed companies organized by WEMA Tanzania programme at Ilonga Agricultural Research Institution, Director of Life Science Dr. Flora Tibazarwa said COSTECH has facilitated the public-private sector partnership at regional and international level that aimed at developing drought resistant maize for small holder farmers in Tanzania. WEMA Tanzania programme is outcome of that partnership, and as today we are witnessing three maize varieties approved by the government for deployment. The Dr. Tibazarwa was referring to the WEMA maize varieties that have successfully completed the National Variety Release procedure. COSTECH stand as the key implementer of WEMA Tanzania because of it mandate to coordinate, monitor and evaluation scientific research and technology development and technology transfer activities in the country, and to facilitate national, regional and international cooperation in scientific research and technology development and transfer.
The development of the drought tolerant maize varieties, whose research started in 2007, was carried out in collaboration with the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) and Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperation (MAFC) under the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa Project.
Dr. Alois Kullaya, programme coordinate told the seed companies that distribution of the drought resistant varieties to farmers will start this year (2014), and all register local seed companies eligible to distribute the released seed varieties.
“The maize we have developed performs well in both dry and rainfall environments, and it is now set ready for seed companies to ensure it reaches Tanzania farmers in good quality” Dr. Kullaya said.
The new maize varieties are WE2109, WE2112 and WE2113. These varieties have been developed in understanding the drought has become a serious threat to maize production in Tanzania and across Africa due to changing weather patterns induced by climate change.
Scientists from the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research under its programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security say temperatures in East Africa are likely to increase by 1.3 degrees Celsius to 2.1 degrees Celsius between now and 2050.
This implies that crop productivity in the region could suffer given the heavy dependence on rain fed agriculture.
The Tanzania Seed Companies meeting and demonstration were hosted by the Director of Research and Development, MAFC, Dr. Fidelis Myaka and Dr Sylvester Oikeh, the project manager, Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA).
Director, Directorate of Life Science Dr. Flora Tibazarwa addressing the audience
WEMA Tanzania Coordinator Dr. Alois Kullaya (with laptop) presenting WEMA updates to national seed companies representative
Section of Seed Companies reps as briefed by Dr. Barnabas Kiula, WEMA Product Development Team Leader before entering demo farms