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Wheat challenges set in perspective

Posted on October, 18, 2017 at 10:48 am

A senior researcher at Uyole Agricultural Research Institute (ARI – Uyole ) in Mbeya, Dr Rose Mongi, has lamented that in spite of Tanzania being endowed with large tracts of arable land for wheat farming, farmers harvested only 100,000 tonnes of the crop, against the estimated annual demand of 1,000,000 tones, compelling the government to spend large amounts of foreign currency on imports, in a bid to cover the deficit.

Addressing a delegation led by Rukwa Regional Commissioner (RC) Zelothe Steven, which was on a study tour at the institute, Dr Mongi said the foreign currency being spent on wheat imports could be gainfully spent by being invested in various development schemes, as latest research reports revealed that there were about 800 different varieties of wheat seeds which could yield surpluses in various parts of the country.

“While the African continent as a whole spends over 40billion/- US dollars to import 70 per cent of wheat from other continents, the situation is worse in Tanzania as it spends colossal amounts of foreign currency to import the same as farmers realise only 100,000 tonnes while the annual demand stood at 1,000,000 tonnes “ she said.

She explained that ARI –Uyole had distributed high quality wheat seeds to farmers in southern highland regions that include Rukwa Region, in a bid to enable them increase production, citing them as Juhudi, Sifa, Merina, Ngoli, Shangwe.

She explained that the fast maturing and drought resistant seed varieties facilitated yields ranging from 3.5 to 5.5 tonnes per hectare. Dr Mongi said the institute embarked on exhaustive seeds research in 1972 and was currently serves seven regions Rukwa , Njombe , Katavi , Songwe , Mbeya , Iringa and Ruvuma. RC Zelothe said the region would make full use of the institute’s research findings in a bid to realise and export bumper surpluses.

Source: Daily News