SeedCo works on developing local rice seed

Published: 24 December 2018
GIANT seed house, SeedCo says it is working on developing rice varieties suitable for local climatic conditions to reduce the country's reliance on imports. Naturally the cereal originates in tropical lowlands and requires a long, warm growing season.

The cereal requires more water than any other crop. Government estimates have pegged money spent on rice imports at $80 million annually.

In an interview with Business Chronicle, SeedCo managing director, Mr Dennis Zaranyika, said the company's research and development department was undertaking trials on the development of the rice varieties.

"As SeedCo, we are working on developing rice varieties that are suitable for local climatic conditions here in Zimbabwe.

"Our research and development is undertaking trials and soon we should be able to report back to the market that we have a product," he said.

"Almost all the rice that is consumed in this country is imported mostly from Asian countries, and we are looking at stopping that so that we can produce it on our own and save the scarce foreign currency."

Mr Zaranyika said the seed firm was doing this in response to the country's generational dietary changes as the youth population was fast migrating towards the consumption of rice.

"Over the past years, SeedCo has invested over $28 million towards research and this year $6 million has been set aside for research," he said.

SeedCo, which unbundled its regional operations and subsequently listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange, reported a fair set of earnings for the half-year to September 30, 2018.

Revenue for the period rose 82 percent to $29 million from $15 million during the same period in the prior year, driven by a 115 percent jump in maize sales.

During the period under review, profit from continuing operations amounted to $5,9 million from a loss position of $35 million, mainly driven by earlier than normal timing of maize seed sales as well as growth in finance income. Net finance income doubled due to income earned on Treasury Bills held.

Other income came in 24 percent lower on account of lower commodity sales. Operating costs largely remained flat due to cost containment measures prior to the inflation run that ensued from October. Margins remained steady due to better product mix.

Assets declined to $191 million from $248 million during the prior comparable period due to the unbundling of regional operations under SeedCo International that listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange.

- online
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