Availability of High-Quality Certified Virus-Free Sweet Potato Vines

Availability of High-Quality Certified Virus-Free Sweet Potato Vines

Press Release

Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) is pleased to inform all stakeholders and the general public that, TARI Mikocheni, which is one of the 17 research Centres under TARI, is now a reliable source of high-quality certified virus-free sweet potato vines. This follows the registration of TARI as a seed dealer, which allows its Centres to produce and sell different grades of certified seed for various agricultural crops.

Confirming this achievement, the Director General of TARI, Dr. Geoffrey Mkamilo said, “The certification of the high-quality virus-free sweet potato vines was recently awarded by the Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI) following a rigorous quality inspection and assessment.” Dr. Mkamilo added that TOSCI is an entrusted institution to enforce the Tanzania Government Seed Act of 2003 and its Seed (Amendment) Regulations of 2017 which encompasses the standards for quality seeds of vegetatively propagated crops, including sweet potato. According to Dr. Mkamilo, the certification also allows TARI Mikocheni, to multiply and sell high quality virus-free sweet potato vines to the Decentralized Vine Multipliers (DVMs) for further multiplication of other seed grades.

When approached for comments, the Director General of TOSCI, Mr. Patrick Ngwediagi said that the approval of TARI as a seed dealer is in recognition of the Government call for TARI to produce sufficient quantities of quality seeds to complement what is produced by the private companies and the Agricultural Seed Agency (ASA), particularly for crops such as sweet potato. Mr. Ngwediagi, however commented that TARI should ensure all sold seeds meet national and international seed standards since Tanzania is now recognized internationally, and therefore follows the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) seed schemes and International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) procedures.

When approached to provide more details on the achievement, Dr. Fred Tairo, who is the Coordinator of Research and Innovation at TARI Mikocheni, and also the Coordinator of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe)’s BioInnovate Africa supported project for Tanzania said, “Under this project, TARI Mikocheni facilitated the institutionalization of a sweet potato seed delivery system by training 54 sweet potato Decentralized Vine Multipliers (DVMs) and sellers from Dar es Salaam, Pwani and Singida regions. The training, which covered areas in sweet potato seed production, certification procedures and dealership; was conducted in November 2018 and March 2019 in partnership with BioInnovate Africa, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), TOSCI and TARI Kibaha.” He added that five out of the 54 trained DVMs, have fulfilled the required procedures and will soon be fully registered as seed dealers. “The institutionalization of a sustainable sweet potato delivery system is also planned to continue in Mwanza and Kagera regions, to elevate the existing DVMs to become registered seed multipliers and sellers. This aims to enhance availability of high-quality certified virus-free sweet potato vines for increased sweet potato production and productivity in Tanzania,” said Dr.Tairo.

TARI Mikocheni is a public research centre under the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) of the Ministry of Agriculture, based in Dar es Salaam with mandates to conduct and promote research for the development of the coconut sub-sector, and promotion and coordination of agricultural biotechnology activities in Tanzania. TARI Mikocheni is among four institutions that are implementing the project titled: Integrating ICT in commercial production of tissue culture-based quality sweet potato planting materials in East Africa. This project is supported by Bioinnovate Africa programme since 2018.

BioInnovate Africa is an Eastern Africa regional innovation-driven bioeconomy programme of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) based in Nairobi, Kenya. The programme is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) to develop and pilot innovative biological based technologies and products that are relevant for inclusive growth and a sustainable economy in the region. Participating countries in the BioInnovate Africa programme are Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

For further information please conduct:

Centre Manager, TARI Mikocheni

E-mail: cmmikocheni@tari.go.tz

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