R. Kapinga, N. Wanyera, R. Asiedu, B. Chirimi and S. Kaare
Yams have been known to grow in Tanzania for many generations. At farm level the role of yams goes beyond the subsistence farming systems and household food security to serve as income generating commodity. In 1996, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in collaboration with the National Root and Tubers Research Program conducted a baseline study on yam production prospects in 31 villages from three major growing zones. Results showed that farmers have good experience in yam cultivation practices. Five different species are grown. There is a great genetic diversity including wild and domesticated species which provides opportunities for selection to suit various ecologies, production systems and modes of utilization. Major constraints to production include pests e.g.yam beetles, diseases, lack of improved varieties and good quality planting material as well as high cost of staking material. The outputs of this study called for opportunities for further development of the crop. In January 1998, the national program initiates yam research through the IITA collaborative project: Community-based Promotion of Food Security Crops in Selected African Countries. This project involves five national programs and IITA. It is sponsored by USAID office for Foreign Disaster Assistance. To-date yam (D. alata and D.cayenensis) planting materials collected from farmers are under multiplication at Ukiriguru and Maruku Research stations in the Lake zone for distribution to farmers. Seventy-two farmers have been trained in miniset rapid multiplication techniques. Thirty varieties of improved white yam have been introduced from IITA for future evaluation with farmers on adaptability and acceptability.