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New vegetable varieties

Photo credit: Africa Rising

Ripe tomatoes in a field (photo credit: IITA/Jonathan Odhong’).

 

No small change: Vegetable farmer cashes in on new vegetable varieties in Tanzania

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by Andreas Gramzow, World Vegetable Center.

‘I grow vegetables because they provide ready cash for me and my family,’ says a beaming Hassan Saidi; one of the farmers who has benefited from activities led by the World Vegetable Center (AVRDC)  under the Africa RISING-NAFAKA and TUBORESHE CHAKULA project for fast tracking delivery and scaling of agricultural technologies in Tanzania.

Saidi is 20 years old and lives in Maweni village, about 25 km east of Babati town in Tanzania. He has participated in the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Tanzania mission-funded project since its inception in October 2014 and is finally reaping the benefits of making changes to his farming practices based on the advice of the project team.

Like the other 160 farmers trained by the project in April 2015 on vegetable garden establishment and maintenance, Saidi was also provided with an AVRDC vegetable seed pack with improved varieties to cultivate. His results have been impressive!

‘This is now the third time that I have reproduced my own vegetable seeds from the AVRDC varieties,’ he said. Out of the six varieties AVRDC has introduced to his village, he chose tomato (Tengeru 2010), African eggplant (DB3), and African nightshade (Nduruma).

‘These are the best I have ever grown. I don’t need any other crops. I was able to harvest 20 bags of African nightshade, where I previously produced only 1.5 bags. My tomato yields have doubled, and I am still harvesting African eggplant from the seed that I sowed half a year ago,’ he says. ‘Since I started with the AVRDC varieties eight months ago, my income has increased by more than TSH 400,000 (USD 190),’ explains Saidi.

Asked about the secret behind his exemplary success, he says the reasons are many but the main one is his use of the improved varieties from AVRDC. ‘But I also did other things like changing the spacing between seedlings. On the same plot (1/8 acre) where I sowed six lines of African nightshade before, I now sow only two lines. This is not to save seeds, but rather for disease control.’ As a result, Saidi now face much lower disease pressure and can harvest African nightshade for more than three months. Previously, he stopped harvesting after only one month because of pests and diseases. But now he even supplies African nightshade and African eggplant to other farmers and he hardly sprays any chemicals on the vegetables.

Read the full article: Africa Rising

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Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.