WITH the ever-changing climate conditions in the country and beyond, farmers have been urged to seek expert guidance before planting in order to boost agricultural productivity.
Such advice includes knowing the fertility of land, the right fertiliser to apply, the right seeds and which crop is suitable for the type of soil.
The call was made here recently by the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI)’s Director General, Dr Geoffrey Mkamilo, noting that current effects of climatic change have hampered agricultural activities.
He noted that his institution has established officers in different parts of the country in an effort to bring services close to farmers.
“I appeal to farmers to contact our officers near them before engaging in farming activity as this will help boost productivity and help bring development” he said.
Dr Mkamilo made the remarks while briefing journalists on the institute’s activities and the 2022/23 plan. He said they are optimistic that more farmers will adopt modern technology.
“We expect to see the number of farmers adopting technology increase from the current 34.2 percent to at least 50 percent” he noted.
This, he said, will go together with the increased maize productivity from 1.5 tonnes per hectare to 4.0 tons, 2.3 tons to 4.5 tons per hectare in rice production and one to two tons per hectare in millet production.
He explained that the institute was established by the Parliamentary Act No. 10 of 2016 to enhance and strengthen the agricultural research system in Tanzania.
According to Dr Mkamilo, TARI is a semi-autonomous body under the Ministry of Agriculture, responsible for all agricultural research activities conducted by the National Agricultural Research System (NARS).
He said its mandate is to conduct, regulate, promote and coordinate all agricultural research activities conducted by public and private research institutes or organizations in the country
TARI aims at strengthening the national agricultural research system to enhance development and dissemination of technologies, innovations and management practices (TIMPs) to address the real needs of farmers and other agricultural stakeholders.
TARI has a network of nine research centres and nine seb centers. The centres are in Makutupora, Ilonga, Selian, Ukiriguru, Naliendele, Mlingano, Tumbi, Uyole and Kihinga.
The sub centres are in Hombolo, Dakawa, Maruku, Mikocheni, Tengeru, Kifyulilo, Ifakara and Kibaha. The DG added that activities of TARI are in line with the implementation of the ministry’s agenda 10/30.
The agenda is to ensure that the agricultural sector budget reaches ten percent of the total budget by 2030, and research activities have been given priority.
The DG noted that the ministry has increased research budget and production of seeds from 11.63bn/- in 2021/2022 to 40.73bn/- in 2022/2023, being an increase by 250 per cent.
He said the budget is used to strengthen availability of improved seeds of cereals from 226.5 tonnes to 1,453 tonnes. TARI plans to produce such trial cotton seeds as well as 50 types of fruit seeds.
“TARI also plans to use different technologies to produce high yield seeds than those available in the market currently” he noted, adding that some 35 new technologies will be established in 2022/2023.
Out of that, 15 will be improved seeds, five on agronomy, five on soil health and ten others on harvesting. On the other hand, some 5,000 farmers and 500 extension officers will be trained on modern farming as 2,000,000 food processors shall be given new technology for value addition.