Cassava production in the country is expected to increase significantly, following a professional and technical services contract that will result in designing affordable solutions to seed multiplication and distribution system.
The Innovative Agricultural Research Initiative (iAGRI) signed a contract with the Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), allowing the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) to design alternative water resources, aimed at providing year-round water for irrigation of cassava seeds. The contract was signed recently by iAGRI’s Project Director Prof David Kraybill, and MEDA’s Field Project Manager, Stephen Magige.
According to iAGRI’s Innovation Portfolio Manager, Dr. Maria Mullei, the technical services activity expects to run for three months, from March up until June, 2015. Its outcome will be to provide sustainable water supply for irrigation of cassava seeds multiplication units.
At the moment cassava seed producers who depend on rain see their seed output available to farmers cut back, which reduces their income during periods of drought.
Dr. Maria Mullei pointed out that while farmers will rely on the market for quality seeds rather than using their saved seed stock, following the design of alternative water sources, cassava crop production increases will contribute to food security in Tanzania despite drought periods.
MEDA’s Field Project Manager, Stephen Magige, says that the project aims at commercializing the cassava seed system by promoting entrepreneur farmers to produce and sell cassava seeds at different stages in the seed system.
“We have earmarked Dodoma because it is a drought prone area, and producing seeds there is a problem. This is why we need different options for the water sources for the cassava entrepreneurs that we are targeting,” he explains.
The technical services contract will also benefit SUA, whose engineers will provide the skills needed for the design work, thus contributing to food security in Tanzania. Additionally, while the university will be providing home-grown solutions to development needs in the country, it will also benefit from the revenue it will get from the design work.
iAGRI is a Feed the Future project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and SUA’s partner in contributing to food security in Tanzania. It acts as an intermediary to bring together those who represent the demand and supply sides of applied research, by interacting with companies, NGOs and other sponsors, to identify their technology needs and match them with researchers at SUA.
MEDA is an international economic development organization whose mission is to create business solutions to poverty, partnering with the poor to start or grow small and medium –sized business in developing regions around the world. MEDA is currently implementing the “Commercially –Sustainable, Quality- Assured Cassava Distribution System in Tanzania: Pilot Innovation Project”, known locally as Muhogo Mbegu Bingwa (cassava seed champion), and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and MEDA members.