TANZANIA – Rice growers in Tanzania are set to benefit from a  special training aimed at equipping them with technical skills to boost rice production as the country strives to achieve self-sufficiency in food and commercial crops.

The training is undertaken by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in collaboration with the Kilimanjaro Agricultural Training Center (KATC) and Agricultural Seed Agency (ASA) and involves a comprehensive refresher course on seed production for local growers and paddy farmers.

According to the training institutions, the training sessions will include both in-class lessons and field trips for actual and practical learning to teach local growers how to adopt new styles of farming with kernels that withstand hostile weather elements.

The institutions have also revealed that they are working with more than thirty participants including small-scale farmers, agricultural extension workers, and agro-dealers.

In Tanzania, rice is the second most important food and commercial crop after maize, with significant national importance as a source of employment, income, and food security for millions of rural households.

In 2020/2021, the country produced 2.6M tonnes of rice against 1.1 tonnes of demand, implying a 1.5 tonnes surplus for export.

The country strategizes to double production from the current 2 metric tons to more than 4 metric tons by the year 2030 and has introduced more than 50 new and improved varieties of rice seeds in this regard.

However, Wilfred Ntupwa, the Agricultural officer noted that drought resulting from climate change is affecting rice production in the country because more than 70% of paddy farms operate under the rain-fed type of agriculture.

The training, therefore, is aimed at addressing farming challenges arising from the effects of climate change and global warming.

Further, the farmers will be impacted with knowledge and innovative ideas to develop resilient seeds that can withstand hostile conditions, noted Ntupwa.

He added that researchers have realized that the participation of rice farmers in research activities is a promising way to easy adoption of best agronomic practices as well as submergence rice seed technologies.

Earlier Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous province of Tanzania, to increase rice production from 5,400 to 17,332 tons, a threefold increase, following established irrigation schemes in the country

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