A five-year project to improve banana production in Tanzania by developing higher-yielding, disease-resistant banana varieties is set to start in June 2015.
The project is part of the USD 13.8 Seed Farmer Market Consumer (SeFaMaCo) program supported by the Million Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that will help to establish banana and sweet potato production in parts of Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania to improve food security in Africa.
The project will also support the on-farm testing of these hybrids in Uganda and Tanzania, will improve the technical capacity of the breeding programs in the region, will strengthen partnerships with farmers, and will develop local human capacity by supporting 8 PhD projects and 5 MSc research projects.
Bananas are both a food staple and an economic backbone in East and Central Africa, where over half of all cultivated land is planted with bananas.
According to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Uganda and Tanzania produce over 50% of all bananas grown in Africa.
The region’s yearly banana crop is valued at USD4.3 billion.
However, banana production in Uganda and Tanzania achieves just 9% of its potential yield due to pests and diseases, posing a serious threat to the future sustainability of banana production in the region.