Monday, July 3, 2017

Agricultural agency suspends production of grain input

THE Agricultural Seeds Agency (ASA) has temporarily suspended the production of grain inputs following the recent outbreak of Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease.  An expert in farm inputs and agricultural services, Mr Domisian Mabale, says that currently, maize seeds will only be produced in regions like Morogoro, Mbozi and Kiteto (Manyara) because the whole of Arusha region is deemed unsuitable for grain seed production. Mr Mabale was addressing farmers from Arusha, Manyara and Kilimanjaro at the climax of a special farmers’ week at ASA grounds in Meru. He used the occasion to explain to them why grain inputs had lately been sourced from other regions. “The Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease affects stems and cobs, causing the maize to develop yellowish patches; whoever detects these signs should uproot and burn them,” the expert explained. Mr Mabale advised that cultivation on a farm affected by MLND should be suspended for at least three years. Some experts believe that the maize disease originated from a neighbouring country, citing Ngaramtoni, Tengeru and Nduruma in Arusha Region as among the most highly affected areas. The Arusha Seeds Production Farm Manager, Mr Arco Mwendo, said the disease was affecting the outfit severely, pointing out that they were now dependent entirely on legumes. “We expect to produce 273 combined tons of beans, sunflower and pyrethrum this season,” he said. The farm measuring 576 hectares produces basic, standard grain seeds, wheat, peas, sunflower and other crops, but presently, maize production has been shelved. More than 30 tons of legumes are expected this year. The guest of honour at the Farmers’ Day, was the Arusha Rural District Council Director, Mr Wilson Mahela, who pledged that the government was striving to contain the disease and blocking its spread further across the Northern Zone. The country representative for the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Mr Jean Claude Rubyogo, said the project had helped local farmers gain access to quality seeds, and especially legume inputs.

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