Friday, November 20, 2009

(HERALD) Invest heavily in seed varieties — Seed Co

Invest heavily in seed varieties — Seed Co
Herald Reporters

Seed Co managing director Mr Dennis Zaranyika has underscored the need to invest heavily in research and development for continuous improvement of seed varieties suitable for all regions of the country.

Mr Zaranyika said it was imperative to develop varieties that could perform even under harsh conditions typical of the current global climatic changes. Seed provision and availability are critical in food security.

"We want to increase seed production as it is vital for food security. And we promise the country more seed next year.

"This year our company is focusing on high yields per hectare rather than spreading resources over a large area," Mr Zaranyika said.

Seed Co has 350 seed growers, but is scaling down to 150 to concentrate on high yields.

Seed growers were urged to improve yields for farming to be sustainable. Production levels of below four tonnes per hectare are generally unviable at the commercial scale.

Mr Zaranyika cautioned farmers against buying uncertified seed.

"Fake seed will not germinate properly and may be susceptible to pests and diseases, thereby greatly reducing yields.

"Farmers lose their money by buying fake seed. After applying fertilizers, herbicides and labour costs, the farmer will still get low yields if fake seed is planted. All other inputs are put to waste if seed is not genuine."

Mr Zaranyika said the deterrent sentence recently passed on a Harare man who was caught selling uncertified seed sent the correct message to all would-be offenders.

John Chirenje of Harare pleaded guilty to selling uncertified seed and was sentenced to three years in prison.

Meanwhile, Seed Co has released a new variety of maize that can produce up to 17 tonnes per hectare.

SC719 is a long season variety that is tolerant to maize streak virus, mottle virus and grey leaf spot.

Seed Co sales and marketing manager Mr Ivan Craig said the variety, which is already on the market, was for high rainfall areas such as natural regions 1, 2A and 2B.

The variety, he said, should be planted early for high yields.

Seed Co is in the process of capacitating research and development in agriculture to move in line with international technology changes.

This will see the release of new improved seed varieties that are suitable for the changes in weather patterns.

Seed co yesterday donated various foodstuffs to Ms Chipo Tembo, who was abandoned by her husband after delivering triplets earlier this year. The company adopted the family which it gives groceries every month.

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