Seed Co invests $22m in research

Perence Shiri

ZIMBABWE’s biggest crop seed producer, Seed Co, says it invested $22,16 million in research from 2010 to 2016, as the listed company sought to stay abreast with modern trends in the seed industry as well as ensure food security and high yield varieties.

This was said by Seed Co managing director, Denias Zaranyika, at a field day at the seed firm’s research station at Rattray Anorld in Kwekwe.

The event was attended by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture and Resettlement led by Gokwe Nembudziya legislator Justice Mayor Wadyajena.

Continued investment in research, Mr Zaranyika said, showed that Seed Co was serious about maintaining growth in crop yields.

“These figures show that as a company, despite our market leadership status, we still take research very seriously,” said Mr Zaranyika.

“It is also through our research that has seen our farmers growing their yields . . . with some managing as high as 22 tonnes per hectare,” he said.

The parliamentary portfolio committee was also shown samples of rice varieties which the company is breeding and are expected be on the market in the next two years.

Rice is generally cultivated in high rainfall areas, which can cause waterlogging fields, but Seed Co is developing varieties that can grow successfully in fields with no standing waters as well as thrive without irrigation.

Some of the rice varieties the company is developing have potential yields of up to 7,4 tonnes per hectare, but work is already underway to infuse them with Asian varieties that can yield to 22 tonnes per hectare before releasing the breeds to the market.

“This is our second year of evaluation for adaptation of these rice varieties,” a senior Seed Co agronomist told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Lands, Agriculture and Resettlement.

“Africa is generally a net importer of rice and the worrying factor is our consumption rate is actually on the increase.

“So we are confident that this product will be a hit, but before we go there we have to make sure we release the best possible product for the market.

“The farmer will always have the option to grow the traditional crops like maize so for us to encourage uptake the inputs should be kept manageable.

“So next season we will take the product for on-farm testing after which I am sure we will launch on the market,” he said.

Chairman of the Portfolio Committee Mr Mayor Wadyajena then queried why the company had not sought Government buy-in in this “noble idea” to which Mr Zaranyika replied it was a company initiative.

He also added that Government, through Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister Chief Air Marshal (Retired) Perrance Shiri, had expressed enthusiasm on the project and had inquired on where Government could come in and assist.