Thursday, April 19, 2007

Seed producers committed to Zim’s agrarian reforms

Seed producers committed to Zim’s agrarian reforms
By John Kachembere

SEED CO, the country’s largest seed producer, has reaffirmed its commitment to agricultural reform by ensuring adequate seed supplies to the nation. Speaking on the sidelines of the Maize Seed Grower of the Year awards ceremony in the capital this week, Seed Co managing director Mr Dennis Zaranyika assured the nation that modalities had been put in place to ensure that the country had enough seed stocks.

"We are more than prepared with adequate wheat seed stocks, thanks to our growers who managed to produce a bumper harvest. We need to reassure the nation that we will continue to work flat out to ensure the country has sufficient seed," he said.

Already, the company has over 6 000 tonnes of wheat seed in stock for the winter wheat season. This was about half of the country’s total seed requirement for the planned hectarage of 120 000 countrywide.

Despite the present difficult economic conditions, Seed Co has demonstrated unwavering support to the land reform programme, contributing over 50 percent of its production towards Government’s input scheme.

"It is our view that increased productivity at farmer level should translate into the growth of Seed Co and indeed the prosperity of the country in terms of seed self-sufficiency," he added.

However, the company has not been exporting due to shortages on the local market, but this was going to change as soon as local demand was satisfied.

To ensure seed sufficiency, Seed Co runs a contract farming scheme involving 350 farmers and a team of agronomists who offer professional guidance to the farmers.

"We have also been supplying under-resourced farmers with fertilizers and other chemicals to boost yields," said Mr Zaranyika.

The majority of Seed Co’s contract farmers produce maize seed, which constitutes 80 percent of its business. Seed Co has the capacity to produce up to 30 000 tonnes of hybrid seed a year.

The seed company, which runs seed production programmes in collaboration with farmers and the Department of Agricultural Research and Extension, has forged strategic partnerships with fertilizer and chemical companies to ensure stable input availability.

The company specialises in seed research and development with the aim of producing disease and drought-tolerant products suitable for different agro-ecological regions.

In recent years Seed Co has expanded its product line to include soyabeans, sorghum, beans, millet and cowpeas.

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