FARMERS have been advised to collaborate with researchers when introducing new agricultural technologies in their areas that will help them in improving productivity and increase income.
This was said by Researcher of cassava breeder Dr Esther Masumba while harvesting farm trials of improved cassava seeds including TARICASS4 (TZ130), Mkuranga-1 and Mkumba that are resistant to Cassava Mosaic diseases (CMD) and Cassava brown streaks disease (CBSD) and cassava whitefly, produced by TARI.
The cassava whitefly is a tiny insect that has a yellowish body and white wings, with the body and both pairs of wings covered with a powdery, waxy secretion.
Speaking to farmers in Songabatini and Mkulumilo villages, Songa ward, Muheza District, Tanga Region, Dr Masumba said the technologies produced by researchers are for farmers and other agricultural stakeholders help to get rid of old-fashioned farming and focus on commercial agriculture which will increase income for smallholder farmers and the nation as a whole.
“This is a unique opportunity for Mkulumilo and Songabatini farmers who have been suffering from poor cassava yields for a long time due to cassava mosaic (CM) and brown streaks diseases. We urge farmers to work together to develop these technologies that we have brought to them,” he said.
TARI Mikocheni has been implementing the African Cassava Whitefly Project to ensure that farmers benefit from improved seeds that are resistant to Cassava Mosaic and brown streaks disease that are spread by cassava whitefly.
“We have brought three improved varieties that we have harvested today in our field trials in collaboration with farmers. We have seen that the seeds have done well compared to their traditional seeds including kikombe,” he said.
For his part, the Crop Pest Researcher Dr Zuberi Seguni says that since 2018, the African Cassava Whitefly Project (ACWP) has been evaluating the seeds against the attacks and effects of whiteflies those three seeds have an additional characteristic of resistance to whiteflies.
He says the second phase of the project aims to involve farmers in field trials to assess the characteristics mentioned in the farmer’s environment.
“The ACWP-2 project has also been evaluating new technology of controlling cassava whitefly by protecting cassava seedlings using Imidacloprid pesticide, a specific pesticide that gives young plant initial protection against whitefly attacks,” he said.
Farmers in the villages have thanked the government through TARI for continuing to find solutions by releasing improved varieties which resistant to cassava mosaic diseases and cassava brown streak diseases The Coordinator of Research and Innovation of TARI Mikocheni Dr Fred Tairo urged farmers to adopt new technologies that help them in increasing production and productivity.