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Govt Asks Researchers To Produce New Seed Varieties

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The Government has asked the National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO) and the NaGRIC&DB to produce new seed varieties and avail them to the market for easy access.

Currently, seed companies access foundation seed from NARO, which is then multiplied and sold to the market. However, the quantities are usually not enough and sometimes their quality is compromised along the way.

The task was delivered by agriculture minister Frank Tumwebaze during the World Food  Day celebrations, which took place at the National Crop Resources Research Institute, Namulonge in Wakiso district.

Dr Barekye from Kachwekano ZARDI displayed different potato varieties

The move is expected to ensure that there is both quality and quantities of seed that are key in sustaining food production in the country, according to Tumwebaze.

He also called on scientists not to stop at only developing the varieties, but to further ensure that farmers and other targeted beneficiaries access them.

Existing crop varieties on the market

According to Dr Yona Baguma, from NARO, in the last 10 years, the organisation has developed over 100 high-yielding crop varieties that are commercially produced in the country. These include 32 varieties of maize, 24 beans, nine of rice, four of sorghum and nine of cassava. Others are eight of sweet potatoes, five mangos, three citrus and 10 coffee, among others.

Baguma added that the uptake and production of these stress-tolerant and high-yielding varieties has led to an increase in productivity and production in the country.

For example, rice production has increased from the previous national average yield of 1 tonne to 2.4 tonnes per hectare and production from 110,000 metric tonnes of milled rice in 2008 to 390,000 metric tonnes per annum in 2020.

Maize productivity increased from 2.5 metric tonnes to 3.7 metric tonnes per hectare and production from 2.8 metric tonnes in 2014 to 5 metric tonnes in 2020.

Bean productivity increased from 0.7 metric tonnes in 2012 to 1.3 metric tonnes per hectare in 2019 and production from 444,000 metric tonnes in 2006 to over 1,000,000 metric tonnes in 2020, respectively.

Soybean seed on display

Coffee productivity partly attributed to the wilt disease-resistant varieties is 3.9  tonnes per hectare compared to the disease-susceptible varieties that yielded on average1.5 tonnes per hectare.

Maize export increased from 278,693 metric tonnes ($84.99m) in 2016 to750,000 metric tonnes ($95.48m) in 2019 agriculture ministry, 2019); and bean exports increased to $80m in 2018, all contributing to import substitution and exports.

This year’s celebrations were marked under the theme: Leave No One Behind. Better Production, Better Nutrition, a Better Environment and a Better Life.

Millet seed at WFD celebrations

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