Soya beans, first grown in what is now Tanzania early in the twentieth century, have always been a minor crop in area planted and total production. German East Africa introductions before 1918 were from Japan, China and Rhodesia. Introductions by the British Trusteeship of Tanganyika in 1938 and 1939 were from India, South Africa, the USA and the Far East. Hernon 237 was introduced in 1950 to replace the American variety Dixie. Experiments at Nachingwea by the Overseas Food Corporation resulted in development of high-yielding and locally adapted varieties in the 1950s and 1960s. Research at Kilosa in the 1970s, based on Nachingwea varieties, emphasized intercropping, fertilization and promiscuous nodulation. The international agricultural research institutions was assisted with introductions and expertise during the 1980s. Soya research has shifted among research centres several times but in the twenty-first century, only Uyole in the southern highlands, with limited human, financial and material resources, works on soya breeding. Two strains from this centre plus the Bossier variety are the only types registered by the national plant certification authority. Smallholder farmers do their own research and adaptive trials with Zambian material. Some large scale farmers grow soya as an alternative crop and to supply protein to the animal feed industry. In spite of oft-expressed intentions by government to support soya and publication of a national soya development strategy in 2010, there has been little increase in area planted and in output. Producers continue to face problems in seed supply, technical advice and marketing.
Key words: Biodiversity, plant breeding, varietal trials, promiscuous varieties, Rhizobium, nodulation.
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