The National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) has released new food crop products for Cassava, Sweet Potato and Wheat which offer hope in addressing prevailing disease and drought stresses.
Among the new releases are two new Cassava lines NAROCASS1 and NAROCASS2 which the research organisation says are high-yielding, aromatic, sweet in taste, pest resilient, and are rich in food and high dry matter.
Perhaps more importantly is the fact that NAROCASS1 and NAROCASS2 are resistant to Cassava Mosaic Disease and tolerant to Cassava Brown Streak Disease respectively.
These two diseases are currently the biggest constraint to cassava production in Uganda and cause significant yield loss estimated at US$24.2million annually.
With a yield potential of up 55 tones per hectare, NARO says the new Cassava varieties are unrivalled compared to other types on the Ugandan market.
NARO’s Director General Dr. Ambrose Agona expressed excitement at the new releases.
“As researchers, we are excited about these new varieties and already, farmers in whose fields we have tested them have given very positive feedback on their benefits,” said Agona.
Agona said his organisation has finalized plans of multiplying and distributing the new crop varieties and has identified seed growers and seed companies for bulking and multiplication for distribution to farmers.
Maize tolerant to lethal necrosis
The research organisation has answered the cries of Maize farmers particularly those from Eastern
part of Uganda by releasing a new hybrid maize variety that is tolerant to the devastating Maize Lethal Necrosis.
“NARO maize hybrid56 (NH5556) is especially tolerant to Maize Lethal Necrosis, a deadly maize disease ravaging farmers’ fields in the East African sub-region,” says NARO in a statement.
The Lethal Necrosis-tolerant maize line is part of three new varieties, including NARO maize hybrid3 (NH5503) and NARO maize hybrid57 (NH5557) which the research body says are high yielding and offer resistance to major foliar diseases and drought stresses.
NARO says the Hybrid NH5557 is nitrogen-use efficient and very stable under low soil infertility conditions.
These advent of new varieties promise to increase and stabilize maize yield and while also improving food security and enhance income among farmers. In Uganda, maize is an important staple food and feed crop. It is the most highly cultivated crop with about 86% of the country’s households involved and consumed by a majority of those in urban areas, and institutions such as schools, prisons, and hospitals.
It is one of the top ten commodities that World Food Program (WFP) purchases from Uganda and ranks as the major export food crop for the country earning significant amount of foreign exchange.
Solution to Potatoe blight
After years of declining Sweet Potato production in Uganda largely due to the late blight disease, NARO has released three new varieties that have higher resistance to the disease.
NAROPOT 1, NAROPOT 2 and NAROPOT 3 are the latest additions to five varieties widely grown in Uganda.
NARO says: “The three varieties have a yield potential of up to 28 tonnes per hectare, compared to national average yield of 7 tonnes per hectare. They have a higher resistance to the potato late blight disease and can withstand bacterial wilt diseases.”
Uganda’s patato production has suffered serious declines over the past few years because of the late blight disease as well as bacterial diseases.
NARO observes that with increased reduced disease burden, potato production is slated to increase creating new market for the product such as potato flour.
“The release of these varieties is a major stride towards improving potato as a commodity for commercializing and hence a business opportunity for those engaged in their production. These varieties have wide adaptability and will be promoted in all agro-ecological zones of Uganda. Plans to multiply and distribute the new potato varieties to seed potato growers, who will multiply the potato seed for mass distribution to farmers, are underway,” NARO said in a statement.