Newer technology to boost crop yields: Cimmyt

THE International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (Cimmyt) wants to bring new technologies to local commercial farmers, which can boost yields by 40%.

BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA

Cimmyt country director, Cosmos Magorokosho told NewsDay on the sidelines of one of their site visits yesterday in Harare that they were working with smallholder famers and seed companies.

“Cimmyt has a role in terms of providing new technologies that are just coming out of the other parts of the world and bringing them to Zimbabwe. Specifically the technologies include new maize variety that is climate smart that means, in our case maize that can do well under drought, tolerant to disease, nutritious maize, and maize with higher levels of protein which is still quite new here,” he said.

“We offer support to seed companies through low cost seed as in open pollinated varieties and providing a wider array of seed. We see ourselves contributing to the seed industry by providing additional material that they can market. We support anyone who is a farmer, not just in Zimbabwe but in the Sadc region, and East Africa. I think just conservation agriculture and drought variety crops (maize) can grow yields by between 30 or 40%.”

Cimmyt is supported largely through aid from international organisations including the United Nations, United States Agency for International Development, Department for International Development and the Zimbabwean government among others. Government support comes through providing land for the organisation to grow crops for research for their operations.

Magorokosho said Cimmyt would continue to work with smallholder farmers and different seed companies throughout the year.

Cimmyt has conducted trials on land that government provided them to practice conservation agriculture and grow varieties of drought resistant maize that saw yields increase by between 20 and 60% using animal traction technologies.

As such, the organisation is on an awareness campaign partnering research institutions to develop projects that address complex food systems involving maize, legumes and livestock.

According to Cimmyt agronomists, commercial famers can save between 30 and 60% in costs from adopting some of these newer technologies.

A research done by government last year revealed about $1 500 was required to plant a hectare of either maize or wheat.

The awareness campaign comes as the country faced a severe drought last year that left many commercial farmers with yields lower than in previous years.

Magorokosho said some of the seed companies they have partnered with are Pioneer, Pannar, Seed Co and Agriseeds.

He said these newer technologies can help, paticularly at a time commercial farmers are struggling to raise cash to plant their crops.

Cimmyt is an international non profit Mexican agricultural research organisation aimed at improving maize and wheat systems for farmers.

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