Research institute begins trials on drought-resistant cassava, sweet potatoes for Southern Zambia


The National Institute for Scientific and Industrial Research (NISIR) has started conducting trials on drought-resistant varieties of cassava and sweet potatoes.

NISIR Head of Plant Science Research Center, Dr Alinesi Chakwiya, said this was aimed at recommending these crops for the southern part of the country, which had been hit hard by drought.

Speaking during a visit by Technology and Science Minister, Felix Mutati, to the NISIR Plant Science Research Center in Kitwe, Chakwiya said the Center was conducting trials on varieties that use little water but can thrive and feed people.

“The drier parts of the country, like Southern Province, will be recommended for crops like sorghum, sweet potatoes and cassava, which can withstand long dry spells,” he said.

Chakwiya stated that trials on cassava would take a minimum of three years, while sweet potato trials would take a year and a half.

“In a year or two, the Center will be able to recommend the plants that the government can suggest to the southern region for planting in drought conditions,” he assured.

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In his remarks, Mutati urged NISIR to develop crops that can be grown in each province and withstand drought conditions.

He stated that having regional recommendations would help the government promote food security at the household level.

“Some cooperating partners are willing to help Zambia promote crops that can withstand the effects of climate change once they have been studied and recommended,” Mutati said.

Additionally, Mutati mentioned that once these recommendations were made, the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit could also help promote the crops to avert future crises.

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