TANZANIA – The Mbeya-based Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) Uyole Centre has launched a-five-year drought-tolerant rice growing project geared to support Tanzania’s efforts towards becoming an African food basket.

Launching the project, coordinator from TARI, Dr Dennis Tippe said that the efforts were as a result of collaboration between agricultural researchers and experts from at-least 17 countries.

Sponsored by International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the project is in place, from this month, aimed at enhancing production in the country, said Dr Tippe.

This is very possible as the project is mostly characterised by modern farming technologies. It is implemented in southern highlands zone, the area that provides over 40 per cent of the rice in the country.

We will have demon- stration farms to sharpen extensions officers and rice farmers’ knowledge, including an application of modern technologies, hence, phasing out all tra- ditional farming methods,” he said.

During the recently held  United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP28), President Samia Suluhu Hassan revealed that Tanzania intends to be a hub for food production in Eastern and Central Africa by 2030.

The head of state invited stakeholders across the world to come and invest in tremendous agro-opportunities available as Tanzania rolls out the Building a Better Tomorrow (BBT) programme.

She added that the country intends to raise irrigated hectares to 8 million in line with the nation’s agriculture agenda that aims at making the sector grow by 10 per cent by 2030.

On his part, Dr Geofrey Mkamilo, TARI Director General (DG said that the government exerts much effort to make sure that all rice growing 21 million hectares are in use.

He said as of now, only 1.7 million hectares are being occupied. According to him, Tanzania produces 1.5 tonnes per hectare, compared to Egypt that produces 10 tonnes per hectare.

“However, Tanzania is a self-sufficient country, but needs selling more rice to its neighbours. We should produce for the whole African continent, a reason why we have embarked on this project,” he said.

Gracing the event, Mbeya Regional Com- missioner (RC), Mr Juma Homera said that the gov- ernment has set aside about 100bn/- (US$ 40M) for rice production in this financial year, as well as embarking on 13 irrigation schemes’ construction, in efforts to upgrade rice production from the current 300,000 to at-least 2.5 million tonnes, per farming season.

Mbeya Region has over 40,000 hectares for rice growing, but only 15,000 hectares are in use, said the RC, adding that “we expect to utilise 150,000 hectares by 2030.”

IRRI Representative, Dr Ajay Panchbhai stressed that the project is for southern highlands zone only, which boos of high rice growing rate in Tanzania.

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