ARUSHA, Tanzania, (Xinhua) --
African root and tuber crops researchers
were on Monday challenged to develop a new scientific mechanism
to control and subsequently eliminate root and tuber-based
diseases to transform from subsistence farming to large
commercial and industry led production.
Director for research and development in the Tanzania’s Ministry
of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries, made the call when
speaking here during the International Symposium for Tropical
Root Crops-Africa branch.
“In Tanzania, like
in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa yields from roots and
tubers are extremely low. This is due to among other factors,
limited use of improved varieties, and insufficient use of
yield-enhancing farm inputs poor farming practices, inadequate
knowledge and skill among producers,” he said.
“Our farmers have
inadequate modern agriculture production skills and knowledge,
access to affordable financial services and are marginal actors
in most food value chains,” he said, adding: “The science you do
every day should integrate components that would reduce or
totally eliminate these bottlenecks.”
Root and tuber crops
are currently threatened by many new pests and diseases, due to
climate change. The production of roots and tuber planting
materials has not been attractive to key private sector actors
in the seed industry, resulting in the poor adoption of new
varieties generated by our breeders.
Mansoor added that
root and tuber are versatile staples that can enable Africa to
meet its food and nutrition security as they produce more food
per unit area of land than most crops.
“However they also
suffer from high post-harvest losses they spoil very easily and
storage is a challenge,” he said.
“The meeting brings
together the world’s leading researchers on root and tuber crops
to Tanzania who have a great potential to improve health across
Africa,” said Professor Lateef Sanni President of the ISTRC-AB
from the federal university of Agriculture Nigeria.
Director for Eastern Africa in the IITA said that addressing
post-harvest losses and markets cannot be overemphasized in the
efforts to boost production for root and tuber crops in Africa.