Zimbabwean embassy gets farming land from Senegal

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THE Zimbabwean Embassy in Senegal has been availed with more land to spearhead the production of white maize in a diplomatic show of food security initiatives that the continent is putting in place.

The development comes at the back of a successful initial experimental crop of white maize embarked on by Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Senegal, James Maridadi two years ago. Ambassador Maridadi started the initiative after realising that most of the staple food in the countries he covers, which include Senegal, Guinea, Mali, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde and Gambia, was imported and hence expensive. He was initially working on a five-hectare piece of land in Dakar, Senegal, which has largely been successful.

This has led to the Senegalese government now allocating the ambassador a 20-hectare plot and they are now also working with government officials to see how they can further boost maize production in Senegal at a large scale and also considering working with a Zimbabwe seed house in the project.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Dakar 2 Feed Africa Summit, Ambassador Maridadi said the whole project started off as an experiment at a small scale, but it has since had positive results.

“What happened is that when I initially came here, I realised that they don’t do white maize in this region, they do yellow maize, which is mostly for stock feed and they import about US$160 million worth of white maize to subsidize their consumption. I then approached the Ministry of Agriculture in Senegal, where I got five hectares of land to do an experiment on white maize production. I got seed from Zimbabwe, I bought fertilizer here in Senegal, and did the five hectares and the results were amazing,” said Amb Maridadi.


He said the results of the initial five-hectare experiment had been so resounding that he organised a field day which was attended by the Senegalese government and local commercial and subsistence farmers.

“I did a field day where I invited about 200 commercial farmers and 500 subsistence farmers to come and it was a huge day because the government of Senegal also came to participate and 11 other ambassadors from other nations in the African continent. What has happened now is that the government of Senegal has allocated more land, about 20 hectares of land, so this year I am going full force in this experiment of ours. I will use the SC719 variety being done by SeedCo,” said the Ambassador.

Amb Maridadi said they were  working on a possible modality of having white maize production done on a large scale in that country, noting that the goal was to help reduce the Senegal import bill.

“In Africa, I believe we have to eat what we produce and produce what we eat therefore we cannot have a situation where African countries import food from Europe, look how many countries have been affected by their inability now to import from Ukraine. What we want is that when we introduce the white maize seed variety from Zimbabwe which works here, SeedCo, for example, can then sell intellectual rights to Senegal and Senegal can start manufacturing those seeds under license from Zimbabwe thereby earning foreign currency for the country, that is what we call economic diplomacy,” he said.

Commenting on Amb Maridadi’s accomplishments, Minister of Lands, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Dr Anxious Masuka said as a Ministry they will also be supporting the experiment by sending experts to help boost white maize production in Senegal.

“The ambassador is not an agriculturist but he is showing the true Zimbabwe spirit. The Senegalese government has said he can replicate this model and we have also said our seed houses and extension services will support him so that we can begin to supply seed to that country. Actually, what we have said is that our seed houses and extension services will go much earlier than when their summer cropping season starts in July so they can assist them in establishing the Pfumvudza/Intwasa concept so the Senegalese government can also become self-sufficient because they import quite a lot,” said Dr Masuka.