SERERE – National Agricultural Research Institutions are breeding high quality “climate-smart oilseed varieties” that mature quickly, can resist drought, and are designed specifically for Uganda climate.
Dr. Walter Anyanga, a research Scientist [Sun flower breeder] at National Agricultural Research Orgnisation in Serere, said there will be a sunflower seed variety tolerant to climate change as well as resistance to insect and disease pressure on the market soon.
Dr. Daily Anyanga at Serere Research Institute said NARO has set up a sunflower research program with seed multiplication centres in isolation and distant from other farmers’ sunflower grain production gardens in different areas in the country such as in Gulu and Kumi districts.
Dr. Anyanga who is a breeder in charge of sesame and sunflower said sunflower seed is bred under controlled pollination to get foundation seed with the best traits and characteristics like high yields, drought, and disease and pest resistance/tolerance.
“Our target in this research is to increase capacity among seed houses, to produce sufficient seed planting materials and change the trends from over-reliance on expensive imported seed varieties, to the production of locally modified seeds,” said Dr. Anyanga.
He told visiting farmers at NARO Serere Research Institute that Wild sunflower species from the US would be used in the breeding research to come with varieties with good traits and characteristics.
He explained that researchers have been searching for wild sunflower species in remote areas in an effort to collect germplasm that would help broaden the crop’s genetic base.
He added that “the research Unit will collect germplasm to be phenotyped for resistance to major insects and pathogens, cytoplasmic male sterility, and fertility restoration.”
He revealed that the end goal is to develop improved commercial varieties with better yields and higher oil content.
He named the ten crops under research at Serere Research Station categorised as oilseeds as Sunflower, Groundnuts, Sesame, [Legume] as Green grams, Pigeon peas, Cow peas [Cereals] as Sorghum, Finger millet, Pearl millet, and Cotton among others.