Key stakeholders in the cassava and rice subsector in Tanzania met in Zanzibar, 4-5 April, to officially launch and plan for the implementation of the “Multinational-CGIAR Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops in Africa (SARDSC)“ project funded by the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) in the country.
The project was officially launched by Dr Khalid S. Mohammed, Principal Secretary, Ministry of State, Second Vice President Office, Zanzibar, United Republic of Tanzania, who assured the participants of his government’s support to the initiative which he said was in line with his government’s efforts to develop the agriculture sector, one of the key drivers of the country’s economic growth.
“I would like to assure you that the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania and Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar will provide all the necessary support to ensure the success of this project to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers of cassava and rice,” he informed the project team and partners.
Speaking at the launch, IITA Director General, Dr Nteranya Sanginga, said that this partnership-project holds great potential to improve the livelihood of smallholders through improving the value chains of the four priority crops in Africa–cassava, maize, rice, and wheat.
Dr Sanginga further noted that the project was in line with IITA’s research strategy that was moving away from focusing only on increasing production to working along the value chains to ensure that farming becomes a profitable business and that people are able to make money from research products.
The Tanzania country representative of the AfricaRice Center, which is leading the rice component of the project, Dr Paul Kiepe, said that the project will support rice production in the country by promoting good farming agronomic practices and mechanization–the two main challenges of rice production.
The project’s cassava work will be carried out in Zanzibar, the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) area and Kigoma, while that of rice will be carried out in Mwanza/Shinyanga area.
The District Commissioner for Kakonko District in Kigoma region, one of the project sites, Toima Kiroya, welcomed the initiative, noting that cassava had been earmarked as one of the cash crops to replace tobacco in the district. Tobacco production, he noted, degrades the environment, affects honey production, and is hazardous to human health, and farmers need an alternative cash crop.
Chris Akem, SARD-SC project coordinator, also attended the launch, with Dr Marie Octavie Yomeni, who is leading the cassava component; Dr Adebayo Abass who is coordinating the project in Tanzania; and Dr Nzola Mahungu, who heads the project in DRC.
Project partners from relevant government ministries, agricultural research institutes, Sokoine University of Agriculture, nongovernmental organizations, the private sector, and farmers’ organizations also took part in the launch and in planning for the project’s implementation.