MBEYA’S Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (Tari) is working on research that centred on increasing potato yields using irrigation system, a practice rarely used in the country.
The research centre at Uyole has already done paper research that producers promising outcome. The next stage is a field research that geared not only to boost output but also controlling potato scabs.
The Tari-Uyole Center Director, Dr Tulole Bucheyeki, said they are carrying the research since there are huge potential since most farmers are depending on rains.
“Irrigation has a huge influence on potato yield,” Dr Bucheyeki told Daily News adding farmers have the potential to cultivate twice a year—during rain and dry season.
The Director said at the moment the centre is digging wells and expect to collect rain water in the coming season and use the same for researching purpose next dry period.
“Our research will irrigate potatoes using sprinklers,” he said.
Sprinkler systems are more versatile than furrow irrigation systems and can apply fertilisers and some pesticides effectively and uniform water application is most easily achieved with sprinkler systems.
Also, sprinkle can easily control over irrigation that may cause hollow centres, cracks and poor quality and to keep the moisture level constant is to reduce scab.
The centre said after the research findings expect to produce seeds around the clock that are best for dry and rain season.
Dr Bucheyeki said earlier research shows that using irrigation may increase output to 30 tonnes per hectare.
Some studies showed that average traditional seeds yield in the country is estimated to be of 8 to 10 tonnes per hectare.
Currently the institute has four potato varieties innovated with collaboration with TARI Uyole and other TARI Research Centers namely sherehekea, tigoni, cip and meru.
Irrigation system easily controls the amount of water potato needs unlike rain where no one can regulate a Mother Nature.
The centre also is conducting a better way of irrigating wheat, which likes potatoes most farmers are depending on rain feed.
On the other hand, he said the centre is also conducting a soil test in four regions that will warranting on giving farmers a correct and proper advise on type of seeds to use depending to the soil to maximise yields.
The regions are Iringa, Rukwa, Mbeya and Morogoro where the centre will measure the soil in each village to also be able to advise farmers the amount of fertiliser needed per type of crop.