New firm to start local seed packaging

Source: New firm to start local seed packaging | Herald (Business)

Tapiwanashe Mangwiro Senior Business Reporter

ZimbaSeed, a fairly new seed breeding firm on the Zimbabwean market, intends to start drying and packaging its seed varieties locally in a development the company expects to significantly reduce operating costs and seed prices.

Agriculture contributes approximately 17 percent to Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product. As the main source of livelihood for the majority of the population, the performance of agriculture is a key determinant of rural livelihood resilience and poverty levels.

ZimbaSeed operations Maxwell Mataka said: “Our target is to begin packaging seed next year and we are on course to do so. This will help our cost structure as well as the cost (of seed) to the farmer if we do it locally.”

The company, which entered the local market last year, imported processed seed this year as part of seed multiplication (increasing production of specific varieties) in the current cropping season.

ZimbaSeed will next year build a conditioning plant and drying machine at its warehouse in Harare, as it localises the whole value chain of production, processing and packaging.

While the seed was imported, ZimbaSeed used local farmers to produce maize seed, but used its Zambian facilities to process and package the products before shipping them back to Zimbabwe for sale.

ZimbaSeed has vowed to tackle drought and climate change by availing drought-tolerant maize (DTM) seed varieties, which have proven to be a success in the short time the varieties have been planted in Zimbabwe.

This season, the company imported into the market high yields, drought and disease-resistant varieties, which it expected to improve productivity for farmers. 

The seed breeder entered the market with two varieties namely ZMS405, an early maturing variety that takes about 130 days to mature and ZMS623, a medium-term maturity variety that takes 138 to 145 days to ripen.

“As an entry point last year we worked with 250 farmers in a radius of 200 kilometres from Harare and the farmers averaged 4 tonnes per hectare, which is way above the 1 tonne per hectare that we are accustomed to with small holder farmers,” Mataka added.

According to Mr Mataka, the maize seed was produced under a DTM project programme, which was initiated by the Government in 2014 through the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).

The DTM project is designed to mitigate the impact of drought and other constraints to maize production in sub-Saharan Africa, increase maize yields by at least one tonne per hectare under moderate drought and increase farmers’ current yields by 20 to 30 percent.

Climate change can disrupt food availability, reduce access to food, and affect food quality. Projected increases in temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns, changes in extreme weather events, and reductions in water availability may all result in reduced agricultural productivity.

ZimbaSeed varieties may help small farmers improve yields. The average white maize yield in Zimbabwe on large-scale commercial farms averages over 4 tons per hectare, compared with around 1 ton per hectare in the small-scale commercial and subsistence sectors.

A subsidiary of the Zambia Seed Company, ZimbaSeed is working on launching new, top-quality maize varieties in Zimbabwe in 2023.

Mr Mataka said: “ZamSeed has been operational for over 60 years in Zambia, which gives them the expertise that we need in order to produce the seed that we want. So when they decided to come into Zimbabwe late last year we jumped onto the opportunity to work with them.”

ZimbaSeed says it is backed by decades of research and experience across sub-Saharan Africa with varieties that guarantee higher yields, drought tolerance and disease resistance to build success for farmers and agriculture nationwide that has been built by their parent company ZamSeed

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