LEADING producer and marketer of certified crop seeds in Zimbabwe, SeedCo says farmers should take advantage and grow new drought-tolerant crops that the company has placed on the market to get better yields.
The call comes when Zimbabwe is going through one of its worst drought seasons in 40 years.
Due to the drought, most farmers across the country have failed to get any meaningful yields while a high of communal farmers are relying on food from donors because they failed to harvest during the last agricultural season.
In a recent interview with NewZimbabwe.com Wendy Madzura, Head of Agronomy for SeedCo Zimbabwe, said her company had a variety of crops suitable for drought situations.
“SeedCo has embarked on climate smart initiatives to ensure that we obtain food security coupled with health security,” Madzura said.
“As SeedCo, our major thrust is to increase productivity level starting from grassroots and ensure that at household level, we have food security. This then feeds into the national yield level,” she said.
“Once this is done we are then able to reduce import costs, promote exports and obtain the much needed foreign currency to revive our industry.
“The initiatives includes development of short season seed varieties which ensure that even if the season is cut short, farmers are still able to achieve their yields,” she said.
Some of the new maize varieties include the SC01, which can mature in 90 to 120 days and farmers are able to obtain good yields in the shortest period of time.
“We continue to improve our genetics to include heat and drought tolerances. We have varieties that are able to withstand long periods of heat and drought stress,” said Madzura.
Other varieties developed by SeedCo that can cope in low rainfall areas are; the SC529, a variety with improved genetics and Desert SC649, a highest yielding series or medium maturing variety that guarantees that a farmer will harvest maximum yields.
“These varieties are meant to increase productivity and ensure that farming remains a profitable business.”
She went to explain that Seedco had introduced crops that are a good health supplement.
“As Seedco we now have bio certified products that are meant to ensure health security by incorporating vitamins in their products for example ZS242 which has vitamin A.
“This is another advantage of incorporating Seedco varieties in your cropping programmes. Maize being our staple crop is a crop that we need to ensure that we do all in power to ensure that increase in productivity.”
Seedco was also promoting farmers to grow legumes, which have health benefits to both the farmer and the consumer as well as enriching the soil and promoting sustainable agriculture.
“We have sugar beans and soya beans. In the soya bean product basket, we have SC bound and SC sharp, top yielding speckled bean varieties that can give yields of between 2,5 to 3 tonnes per hectare under good management.
“We also have small grains because we have realised that climate change is real and we need to employ small grain production not just in marginalised areas but across the country. Farmers are encouraged to grow small grains and at Seedco we grow white and red sorghum,” said Madzura.