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Tanzania: Enhancing Crop Productivity through Radiation Technology

News Article
18 August 2008

Banana seedlings are being multiplied through micro-propagation for distribution to farmers (Sokoine Agricultural University, Morogoro, Tanzania)

The project aimed at developing improved varieties of basic crops such as rice, banana and barley through tissue culture, radiation-induced mutations and molecular techniques and enhancing the crop breeding capacity in Tanzania.

It has been in implementation since 2005. Apart from capacity building, the project has so far successfully released two mutant rice varieties, Mwangaza and SUPA BC. Mwangaza is a new variety released for cultivation in the inland of Tanzania. It is resistant to rice yellow mottle virus (RYMV) disease, a devastating disease mainly occurring in the African region. This variety performs well in areas of high RYMV infection; it is also being used as RYMV resistant germplasm for breeding new varieties. SUPA BC is a new variety released for cultivation in Zanzibar, particularly in irrigated systems. It has gained acceptance of farmers due to its high yielding and acceptable quality characters.

Apart from the two released varieties, there are also dozens of rice and barley breeding lines being developed. Some of them have been under field trials and appeared promising for eventual release as new varieties. For example, five rice elite lines were selected after on-station trials for their shorter stature, earlier maturity and resistance to RYMV; three barley mutant lines at M8 have shown to be early maturing, of high quality and resistant to lodging.

A banana micropropagation system has been established. Twenty banana cultivars, preferred by farmers, were subject to tissue culture and propagation. More than 3 000 clones each were propagated from 20 varieties and distributed to banana production zones in the eastern and southern parts of Tanzania.

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