By Samantha Hautea
More than 10 institutions are affiliated with NextGen Cassava. In our partner spotlights, we feature profiles on individual institutions and the role each institution plays in the project.
Tanzania officially joined the NextGen Cassava project as a partner in 2016. The partnership has been a productive one, and many positive results have come out of the collaboration. We interviewed Heneriko Kulembeka and Kiddo Mtunda, leads for the NextGen project in Tanzania, to learn more about the work being done in the country.
Header Photo: Heneriko Kulembeka (red) and Kiddo Mtunda (yellow) of TARI with Jonas Ambrose of the Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute at a cassava seedling nursery in Chambezi Station. Photo by Samantha Hautea
What is your institution’s name and its role in your country? What kinds of activities does it engage in?
Our institution’s name is the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI). This is a semi-autonomous body of the government under the Ministry of Agriculture, responsible for conducting, regulating and coordinating all agricultural research activities in Tanzania. TARI’s mission is to generate and disseminate the application of knowledge and agricultural technologies as catalysts for change in achieving agricultural productivity, food and nutrition security, environmental sustainability, and economic growth, while involving stakeholders in the country and the global community.
Specific functions of TARI include but are not limited to: 1) Conduct, promote and coordinate basic, applied and strategic agricultural research; 2) Advise the government on the formulation of national policies, laws and regulatory frameworks for promoting and regulating agricultural research; 3) Set national agricultural research agenda and priorities in collaboration with key stakeholders.
On behalf of TARI, NextGen Cassava activities in Tanzania are conducted and coordinated by TARI Ukiriguru in Mwanza. Other institutions involved are TARI Ilonga, TARI Kibaha, and TARI Naliendele.
Heneriko Kulembeka at a cassava field trial at TARI Ukiriguru, Mwanza. Photo by Chris Knight.
What is TARI’s role in NextGen Cassava?
TARI’s role in NextGen includes germplasm acquisition and utilization, testing genomic selection training population in Year 1 and Cycle 1 materials from current crosses to develop genomic prediction models, optimizing flowering and seed set, integrating phenotyping tools like NIRS into breeding program, implementing on-farm/gender-responsive activities, and capacity building (human and infrastructure).
Kiddo Mtunda at a cassava seedling nursery in Chambezi station. Photo by Canaan Boyer
Are there any Masters/PhD students funded by NextGen at TARI? On what are they focused?
Yes. We had two TARI MSc students trained by NextGen Project Phase 1 on cassava breeding. In Phase 2, there are potential MSc/PhD students identified who will also focus on cassava breeding.
Has the partnership/involvement with NextGen benefited TARI? In what ways?
In Phase 1, TARI was able to accomplish the following:
a) Develop a training population
b) Estimate breeding values
c) Develop selection indices using economic weights
d) Select parents and planting crossing blocks
e) Identify testing environments
f) Prioritize traits prioritization and standardize processes
g) Conduct training on R, GS, experimental design, process maps and selection
In the future, we expect that researchers from NextGen and TARI will continue to work closely as one team.
How does NextGen fit into TARI’s overall mission and goals?
NextGen aims to increase the rate of crop improvement using new technologies, a goal which is in line with TARI’s mission as explained above.
Looking to the future, how do you see NextGen and TARI’s partnership developing in the next five years?
In the next five years, NextGen and TARI’s relationship will become stronger and stronger.