SeedCo seeks $4m

HARARE - Africa's largest seed producer Seed Co is seeking close to $4 million aimed at completing its new state-of-the-art laboratory, which has capacity to enhance seed production.

The company’s molecular scientist, Meluleki Zikhali, told the businessdaily on Friday that Zimbabwe stands to benefit from the completion of the laboratory.

“Genetic purity testing all along was done in South Africa and the laboratory is an advantage to Zimbabwe as it will help to reduce time of producing a new variety — from 15 to eight years,” he said.

The completed laboratory is also expected to enhance food security in the country through reducing dependence on foreign laboratories by conducting quality seed-testing locally.

For many years, seed testing has been critical to customers — farmers, seed companies and green-houses — to know what they are purchasing.

Agriculture experts say there is need to ensure the quality of the seeds farmers are planting, therefore seed testing is a critical part of the seed industry’s challenge of feeding the world.

Seed Co non-executive director Michael Ndoro highlighted the need for Zimbabwe to adopt new technologies that boost agricultural productivity.

“It is important that we realise that farming has become a highly-skilled and scientific endeavour that drives the food supply and security at both the household and national levels,” he said.

Ndoro added that government continues to put in place various initiatives to ensure that it stimulates production in all sectors of the agricultural industries.

“Government has already signed the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme as a catalyst for mobilising local resources for financing the agriculture sector in Zimbabwe.

“This programme is also aimed at strengthening their efforts to enhance the development of agriculture to improve incomes of the rural populations,” he said.    

Seed Co Zimbabwe managing director Denias Zaranyika said his company was in the process of producing new seed varieties to mitigate effects of harsh weather conditions.

“Introduction of very short and ultra-short season varieties will improve farmers’ yields to mitigate El Nino induced drought. Some of you have already been able to experience the beauty of the ultra-early and widely adaptable SC301 variety. We have added to this basket SC303, the earliest hybrid available in the country which also boasts good foliar disease coverage,” he said.

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