New rice in Tanzania to boost production

 Liz Barona-Edna   |  

With the rapidly growing demand for rice in East Africa, Tanzanian farmers can now boost rice production two to three times by combining good agricultural practices with the adoption of two new high-yielding rice varieties, IR05N 221 and IR03A 262.

After extensive evaluation and screening across the country since 2008, farmers chose IR05N 221 (named Komboka, meaning be liberated) and IR03A 262 (named Tai, meaning eagle) for their promising yield potential of 6.5–7 and 7.5 tons per hectare, respectively.

Currently, Tanzania’s average yield is around only 1.8 tons per hectare due to low-yielding varieties with long growth duration and susceptibility to diseases. Komboka and Tai will help uphold Tanzania’s position as the leading rice producer in East and Southern Africa by helping farmers produce more rice.

These new varieties also possess grain quality that meets the needs and preferences of farmers and consumers in Tanzania – essential to ensuring their adoption and marketability.

“Komboka is strongly desired for its aroma, which is highly regarded by farmers and consumers, and therefore it is very marketable,” said Dr. Zakaria Kanyeka of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), which led the development of the varieties. “Tai, on the other hand, is nonaromatic, yet has strong potential in parts of the country where aroma is less important.”

Beyond the aroma difference, Komboka and Tai are highly preferred by farmers for their long, slender, and translucent grains, and soft texture for cooking, as the texture remains soft after overnight storage. Both varieties can be grown twice a year – during the rainy season from January to June and during the dry season from August to December.

Compared with a popular rice variety in Tanzania, SARO 5 (TXD 306), both ripen faster by 5–7 days (Komboka) and 7–14 days (Tai) – thus helping farmers cash in on their crop early. The two varieties also exhibit moderate resistance to diseases such as leaf blast and bacterial leaf blight.

IRRI scientists based in Tanzania worked in close collaboration with Tanzania’s National Rice Research Program of the Agricultural Research Institute (ARI)-KATRIN to develop the new varieties.

“Our partners in Tanzania have been critical in supporting the development of Komboka and Tai, which are the first IRRI-bred rice varieties developed especially for Tanzania,” said Kanyeka. “Their vastly superior performance has been recognized by Tanzanian farmers and we are looking forward to seeing more farmers try them out to experience their higher productivity and quality.”

IRRI has a long history of developing improved rice varieties for Asia, and in recent years has stepped up its support to help improve rice production in Africa with the development and release of rice varieties for Burundi, Mozambique, and now Tanzania.

Komboka and Tai were proposed for release to the Tanzania Seed Certification Institute, which conducted a national performance trial. Upon the recommendation of the Technical Variety Release Committee to the National Variety Release Committee, the two IRRI elite lines got the committee’s approval for release as varieties for production in Tanzania.

“Production of more seeds of the two new varieties is now underway in close collaboration with the Agricultural Seed Agency of the Ministry of Agriculture and we hope that, by 2014, there will be enough seed to start wide-scale dissemination to farmers nationwide,” said Kanyeka.

IRRI would also like to acknowledge the support and help of the following agencies and individuals who have been instrumental in the development and release of Komboka and Tai:

  • Agricultural Research Institutes under the Ministry of Agriculture at KATRIN, Ifakara, Uyole, Mbeya, Tumbi, Tabora, Dakawa Research Center, and Morogoro.
  • Agricultural Training Institutes: Kilimanjaro Agricultural Training Center (KATC) in Moshi and the Ministry of Agricultural Training Institute in Igurusi and Mbeya
  • Large- and small-scale Irrigation schemes: Igurusi-Mbarali, Mwamapuli-Tabora, Mombo-Korogwe, Dakawa-Morogoro, Lower Moshi, Lakitatu Usa River, Ngana, Kyela, Sikonge, Bagamoyo-Pwani, and Kapunga-(Pvt.) Mbeya
  • Plant breeders of the Ministry of Agriculture: John Kibanda (coordinator for the National Rice Research Program-KATRIN, Atugonza Bilaro (ARI-Tumbi), D. Deodatus Kisandu (ARI-Uyole), Sophia Kashenge (ARI-KATRIN), and Hezron Tusekelege (Dakawa Research Center).
  • IRRI-Tanzania and IRRI-Mozambique breeders and researchers: Mohammed Mkuya, Rosemary Murori, Rachel Elibariki, Nsajigwa Mwakyusa, Fred Myinga, Surapong Sarkarung, Clement Mwale, Y.P. Singh, Alexis Ndayagije, Joseph Rickman, R.K. Singh, and Zakaria Kanyeka
  • Seed agencies: Agricultural Seed Agency (ASA) and Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI)
  • District Agricultural and Livestock Development Offices (DALDOs) in the districts of Kyela, Igunga, Sikonge, Kahama, and Bagamoyo
  • Farmers from Dakawa, Mombo, Lakitatu, Mwamapuli, Ngana, and Bagamoyo

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