New groundnut varieties perform to expectations
Posted Wednesday, February 27 2013 at 00:00
In 2010, new groundnut varieties were released by the National Semi-Arid Resources Research Institute (NaSARRI) in Serere to help farmers overcome the challenge of pests and diseases to which the older varieties had succumbed to. The pests include Aphids, leaf miner and thripidae and were affected by leaf spot and rust virus.
In addition to Serenut 5R—red in colour—and Serenut 6T—which is whitish—that are resistant to the Rossete virus, which is common in most farmers’ fields, eight varieties were released in 2011 namely Serenut 7T, 8R, 9T, 10R, 11T, 12R, 13T and 14R. These have resistance to the other pests and diseases.
Now, about three years later, the new varieties have performed well according to the farmers’ expectations.
They are also favourable to farmers because they mature within a period of 80 to 110 days compared to older varieties that mature in 135 days or more.
According to Mr David Kalule Okello, who is in charge of NaSARRI’s groundnut programme, the prevalence of pests and diseases were resulting into low yields. Therefore, his team had been breeding better performing varieties. So far, 10 varieties have been released since the year 2010.
“When we are breeding these varieties, we first consult the farmers in the different districts to ascertain which variety they grow most in a specific region. What we discovered is that farmers from the Central and Western regions prefer groundnuts that are red in colour unlike those from the East and North who like the whitish colour because it is good for making peanut,” Okello said.
The scientists before releasing these varieties to farmers go ahead to test them in different fields to know their growth potential in a particular region. Those varieties which have common characteristics in the various regions are the ones that are selected and released to farmers.
He added that farmers liked the newer varieties because they are high yielding but they are faced with the challenge of seed shortage.
Ms Betty Alepo, a farmer from Serere, observed that farmers had been growing Serenut 3R and 4T, whose resistance against pests and diseases has since broken down.
According to her, most farmers have since resorted to growing Serenut 5R and 6T, which replaced Serenut 3R and 4T that contain seed dormancy.
If a farmer wanted to replant the latter, they would have to stay for two months unlike the former that can be planted immediately as long as the seeds are dry.
“The old varieties contain seeds that test bitter even if they are toasted or eaten fresh but this is not the case with the new variety and besides they yield between 2,500 to 3,000 kg per hectare compared to the old varieties which yield 1,500 kg to 2,000 kg per hectare,” she said
Alepo is one of the many farmers who obtained foundation seeds and has since ventured into multiplying the seeds, which she sells to farmers at Shs50,000 and Shs60,000 per basin depending on the season.
She says, a number of farmers go to the institute to purchase foundation seeds which is sold at Shs300,000 for every 45 kg. As long as farmers maintain the purity of the seeds, they can replant them many times
For those farmers who are far from the institute, they have been purchasing seeds from seed companies that are multiplying them for commercial purposes.