Coronavirus update: Africa food security threat mounts

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Food security has always been a matter of much concern across Africa, the threat has only been extenuated by the worsening coronavirus outbreak.

With the rest of the World tied up with response to the coronavirus in their own countries, scientists in Africa have to step up to the food security threat on the continent.

Up to the task are Tanzanian scientists who early this week, in the nick of time, announced a breakthrough in maize research that may very well answer the impending food security threat.

The Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute, announced its scientists have developed two genetically modified maize varieties that to a great extent, stand to solve the food security issue in the country and region at large.

First is a maize variety that is much higher in protein concentration than the regular maize types now been grown across the country. This variety will serve to give the public much higher nutrient levels than the current maize type been consumed in almost every household across the country.

Further still, already there are cases if malnutrition in Tanzania which leaves the affected, mostly children, susceptible to diseases and new infections. An affordable maize variety that is also high in protein concentration will help fortify the nutrition deficiency and boost immune systems, an important element in the face of coronavirus spread.

The second variety is drought resistant and high yielding, christened Vumilia K1, Situka 1 and Situka M. These drought resistant and high yielding varieties are vital in these times of uncertainties as the country poises itself to combat the coronavirus outbreak and its aftermath.

Should these new varieties, the high protein and the drought resistant high yielding maize take root, the country can grow itself enough stock to secure its food needs in the short and long term coming periods.

Maize has short gestation periods (3 months) which would, if planted in large amounts, provide considerable amount of stock for the country. Already distribution of these varieties has begun in Kilimanjaro, Manyara and Arusha regions where the results are very promising.

These pilot areas will serve to open up new opportunities for other regions in the country and across its borders to the neighbouring East African Community and beyond.

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Giza Mdoe is an experienced journalist with 10 plus years. He's been a Creative Director on various brand awareness campaigns and a former Copy Editor for some of Tanzania's leading newspapers. He's a graduate with a BA in Journalism from the University of San Jose.

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