The Citizen Daily has recently reported that Tanzania agriculture experts are now saying that improvement in the quality of seeds will be critical to the success of the national agricultural revolution strategy, Kilimo Kwanza (Agriculture First), as increased agricultural production is not possible without the use of quality seeds.
To this end, the executive director of the Tanzania Seed Traders Association (Tasta), Bob Shuma, explained that knowledgeable farmers would require both quality and affordable seeds in order to increase their crop yields.
Mr. Shuma, thus issues a challenge to agricultural experts to begin taking deliberate measures in order to ensure that the seed aspect was given adequate importance in the Government initiated program.
In addition, the Citizen Daily also reported a well-known agricultural researched in, Prof. Hussein Mongi, as having indicated that, unlike many other countries, the Tanzania seed industry has not yet been modernized and that poor quality seeds are partially to blame for low farm yields.
Prof. Mongi went on to say that it was time for both the Government and the private sector to deal with the issue.
“Some pertinent issues have to be tackled first before Kilimo Kwanza takes off,” he said, “This should be quality seeds first.”
The chairman for Tasta, Goodluck Minja, also went on to warn that the new Kilimo Kwanza plan could fall short of expectations might fall short of expectations without the proper use of modern agricultural practices and technologies.
In addition, the chairman also emphasized that improved quality seeds were important components of modern agriculture and, to this end, Tasta was prepared to promote the sub-sector through Public Private Partnership (PPP).
According to the acting chief executive officer of the Tanzania Official Seed Multiplication Institute (TOSCI), Tasiana Maingu, there is a currently critical need for Tanzania to conform to international seed quality protocols.
She went on to explain that, in spite of the fact that the country has received accreditation to the Zurich-based International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) more than 10 years ago, there still remained much to be done.
Recent estimates by the ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, the annual requirements for quality seed are 100,000 tons.
Nevertheless, it has also been estimated that over 90 percent of the Tanzania farmers use recycled seeds which have very low production potential and only about 13,000 tons of crop seeds, including 5,100 tons of maize are of improved quality and are sold annually.
According to Ms. Maingu, based on regular support by Danida, which has directly benefitted TOSCI since 2006, which TOSCI has enjoyed since 2006, TOSCI staff is expected to receive training on quality assurance system, seed testing and seed sampling.