A review of maize, rice, tomato and banana research in Tanzania

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Crop improvement is critical for the sustainable production of crops that contribute to healthy diets, alleviation of hunger and poverty, and enhanced quality of life for people across diverse social economic strata around the world. The development and improvement of crops that can cope with the extreme biotic and abiotic stresses brought about by climate change is probably one of the most important steps that can be taken by any country to ensure a plentiful, healthy, and nutritious food supply for its population. This requires the use of all tools and technologies in the development of new and improved crop cultivars. Maize, rice, and vegetables (tomatoes and bananas) are important crops grown in Tanzania and production has steadily increased for the past 40 years. However, yield per unit area is generally very low, Maize averages 1.4 t/ha while the potential yield is 5 t/ha and rice averages 0.5-2 for upland ecologies and 4.5-6.0 t/ha for irrigated ecologies compared to the potential yield of 5t/ha and 10-11 t/ha respectively. Tomato production is higher than other vegetable crops in Tanzania, with a total annual production of 129,578 t, representing 51% of the total vegetable production. Average tomato yield is from 2.2 to 3.3 t/ha which is far below the world average of 27.5 t/ha. This stands in contrast to overall global production of maize, rice, and tomatoes which averaged 34, 21, and 43%, respectively, over the same time period, mainly through crop improvement programs and the use of new technologies. The innovative Agricultural Research Initiative (iAGRI), is a project that is being implemented within the framework of the US Government’s Global hunger and Food Security Initiative (GHFSI). This study was commissioned by iAGRI to develop a research background paper on crop improvement strategies for maize, rice and selected horticultural crops, the focus crops of Feed the Future project. The information was obtained through review of available literature and consultation with relevant scientists and stakeholders.


Tanzania Journal of Agricultural Sciences 2015, Vol. 14(1): 1-20


Crop improvement, Plant breeding, Rice, Maize, Horticulture crops, Research gaps