Dryland farming research centre for Matopos

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

THE International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is planning to set up an incubation centre at the Matopos Research Station in Zimbabwe, it has been learnt.

ICRISAT is a non-profit making organisation that conducts agricultural research for development in the dry lands of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

The organisation headquartered in India also helps to empower disadvantaged communities to overcome poverty, hunger and environmental problems through better agricultural practices.

Speaking during a familiarisation tour of the research centre by First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa early this week, ICRISAT regional director Moses Siambi said the new incubation hub will help emerging entrepreneurs test their ideas at a pilot level before venturing into full-scale production.

“Highly profitable crops such as horticultural crops may not have structured markets but together we can find solutions based on our knowledge and experience. As part of the revitalisation of our research work, we will establish an incubation centre through the South-South collaboration with the government of India,” said Siambi.

Siambi added that his organisation will continue to come up with researches tailor made to improve profitability in agriculture.

“Opportunities for farmers to explore various pathways out of poverty require the enabling environment that can be triggered by the right government policies. We are here to lend our support to the government in rethinking new ways of making agriculture profitable for farmers in dry land,” he said.

Siambi also revealed that ICRISAT has availed US$3 million dollars for the revitalisation of the research centre.

“It is anticipated that this seed money will lead to renewed interest in dryland agriculture research in this part of Africa in an effort to start a new generation of researchers and farmers,” he said.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s wife urged government to prioritise research in small grains.

“As we speak, the seed bank for small grains in virtually empty. Multiple programmes have to be structured to expand research and production of seed. For the last nine years farmers in rural areas have been planting recycled seed resulting in poor yields,” said Auxillia who paid tribute to ICRISAT for funding the incubation centre.