Msekera Research Station in Chipata in Eastern Province has this year developed five new groundnut seed varieties which are superior over previous innovations and are tolerant to drought, says Research Station Programmes Officer Kennedy Kanenga.
Mr Kanenga said apart from that the station had also developed one ‘cowpea’ variety which it was calling ‘Mtilizi’ as well as two new ‘soya bean’ varieties.
Mr. Kanenga said the new additions to the groundnut seed varieties included ‘Msekera Groundnut variety number 6 (MGV6) ; MGV7, MGV8, MGV9 and a fifth groundnut seed variety known as ‘Ziwiri Zitatu’ as it had the potential to grow three seeds in one pod.
He said the new groundnut seed varieties were superior over previous innovations as they were tolerant to drought, noting that the varieties would give farmers 15 to 30 percent more yields in addition to having a combined resistance to diseases.
“We need to mention that we have also developed two high yielding soya bean varieties, which are also tolerant to a disease called Frog High Leaf Spot as well as a cowpea variety that is storage tolerant,’’ said Mr Kanenga.
He further said the soya bean varieties mature early and are short hence escape the Frog High Leaf Spot disease which comes later in the season.
“When it comes to cowpeas, farmers always complain that their cowpeas are destroyed when in storage. So this is the first cowpea variety which is not attacked by weevils,
“It stays in storage for two years without any weevils catching it. We are excited about this variety and are calling it Mtilizi,” said Mr Kanenga.
Mr Kanenga said the new legume varieties respond well to the challenges of climate change and come eight years after the station’s last release of new varieties.
“The last time, we developed new groundnut seed varieties was like eight years ago. Ideally, everything being equal, we are supposed to develop new varieties every three years but due to financial constraints, we have not been doing so,’’ said Mr Kanenga.
However, Mr Kanenga disclosed that, this year, Feed the Future project has partnered with the Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture to accelerate the innovations.
The research station has previously developed groundnut varieties such as MGV4, and MGV5 among other innovations.