The Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre (SIRDC) is targeting producing 1 000 tonnes of maize seed for the 2018/19 cropping season, up from 600 tonnes last year to meet growing demand, an official has said.
By Freeman Makopa
SIRDC general manager, Tafara Matekaire, said the increase was due to growing demand in the country.
“We have increased our seed production target to 1 000 tonnes this year because there is increased demand, especially in marginal rainfall regions in the country and Matabeleland has been complaining that we have been neglecting them,” he said.
“We also fell short of the target that we were supposed to supply in Mt Darwin, that’s why our target is almost doubling that of last year.”
SIRDC produces maize seed varieties and also facilitates the commercialisation of hybrid maize seeds Sirdamaize 113, 115, 117 and 119 and any other crop varieties developed by its scientists, which are drought and disease tolerant.
The land targeted has also increased from 300 hectares last season to 500 hectares while the number of contracted farmers is also set to increase from 13 to 20 in the 2018/19 season
The organisation is set to commercialise seeds for sorghum, sugar beans, millets and groundnuts.
The organisation’s flagship product is the drought tolerant Sirdamaize 113 developed through molecular marker-assisted technology.
It has been effective in such marginal rainfall areas as Buhera, Sanyati, Gokwe, Mangwe, Zaka, Chiredzi, Guruve, Mt Darwin, Mutoko, Lupane, Umguza, Shurugwi, Mutoko and Gutu among others.
Matekaire said they have come up with new varieties that need to be approved for commercialisation.
SIRDC is also developing seed varieties for other food crops to mitigate the effects of climate change and increase food security, he said.
Meanwhile, the maize seed consumption estimates for Zimbabwe stands at 30 000 to 50 000 tonnes/year.