Chambezi Agric. Res. Station
Dr AK Kullaya
East African Tall (EAT)
Tanzania, officially the United Republic of Tanzania, is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda on the north, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the west, and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique on the south. To the east it borders the Indian Ocean.
The coconut palm is an important perennial cash and subsistence oil crop along the coastal belt of Tanzania. About 25 million coconut palms are cultivated on approximately 252,000 ha. The crop supports the livelihood of more than 300,000 rural households, with an average farm size of 0.5 to 1 ha.
The Government of Tanzania decided to initiate the National Coconut Development Programme (NCDP) in 1979 with the mandate to promote coconut production and utilization, and to improve the productivity of the coconut sector in the country. The inception of the NCDP marked the beginning of the process of institutionalizing coconut R&D in the country, which led to the establishment of the Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute (MARI) in 1996.
Some of the major constraints to coconut cultivation in Tanzania include the presence of serious pests and diseases such as the lethal yellowing disease, poor crop husbandry practices as a result of inadequate extension services to growers, lack of improved planting materials, ageing coconut palms and sub-optimal climatic conditions. Twentythree varieties and 22 hybrids have been tested on 4 different sites with different disease and climatic pressures: Kifumangao, Chambezi, Sotele and Pongwe. All the cultivars tested in Tanzania have been attacked by lethal disease with a lethality varying from 14 to 65% (Schuiling 1992). In an attempt to identify the local sources of resistance, 29 Tall accessions have been collected in Tanzania and Kenya and have been planted in performance fields. Since 1981, 2 seedgardens with an area of 166 ha have been established progressively on the islands of Mafia and Zanzibar, free of diseases at that time. In 1989 about 550,000 hybrid seednuts have been produced, but production ceased a few years later.
Collaborative Activities between BIOVERSITY/COGENT and Tanzania
1. Capacity Building
a) Technical assistance/expert advice
In 1998, one expert was sent to Tanzania on two technical assistance missions including identifying the country’s coconut research and development needs and formulating an Africa/Indian Ocean coconut regional project proposal.
b) Training and human resources development
To date, no COGENT-sponsored training courses have been held in the country.
From 1997 to 2007, seven local coconut researchers have undergone staff development training on the STANTECH, embryo culture techniques; use of the microsatellite kit and dedicated statistical software; Coconut Cryopreservation Training Course; Training Course on Technical Writing, Seminar Presentation,
Public Awareness and Proposal preparation; and Statistical Design and Germplasm x Environment Interaction Analysis Training Course; Production of Coconut Shell Handicrafts; Socioeconomics and Participatory Approaches to Reduce Poverty in Coconut Growing Communities; and Markets and Market Development.
c) COGENT meetings/workshops
In 2001, Tanzania hosted one workshop and one meeting, including the 10th COGENT Steering Committee Meeting in Dar es Salaam.
2. Research Projects
A total of three projects have been carried out in the country, with the Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute as the implementing agency.
3. Financial Support and Funding
Donor funding support for projects in Tanzania amounts to US$ 79,833 provided by CFC, DFID and IFAD, while national government counterpart financing amounts to US$ 63,791.