Maize seed demand up 50%

Maize seed demand up 50%
Published: 05 September 2017
ANNUAL demand for maize seed in Zimbabwe has increased 50 percent to 37 500 tonnes compared to 25 000 tonnes that was required prior the land redistribution programme in year 2000, while seed producers can now export the surplus.

Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Permanent Secretary Ringson Chitsiko, said the current tonnage was enough to plant the annual target of 1,8 million hectares of maize across the country.

He said the seed producers also had capacity to meet local demand for different crop seed varieties and could take advantage of regional trade bodies such as the Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa to export excess seed. History has shown local producers have the capacity to meet demand, which has been growing in the past 17 years.

"The Zimbabwean seed industry has been meeting local certified seed demand for the maize staple crop, which has increased from 25 000 tonnes before the land reform in 2000 to the current estimated annual requirements of +/-37 500 tonnes.

"I envision that Zimbabwe will in particular remain a surplus producer of major seed crops in particular maize seed," he said during the launch of the domestication of the harmonised Comesa seed regulations in Harare yesterday.

He said the launch of the harmonised system, will enable local seed houses to create markets for trading excess seed across the borders and boost foreign currency earnings.

This is also expected to enhance agriculture productivity in the region, increase competition and improve availability of affordable quality seed varieties to farmers, mostly small scale.

In 2015 Comesa member states came up with a team for a strategy for the alignment process of the seed regulations. To date Zimbabwe, Burundi, Kenya Rwanda and Uganda have domesticated while Zambia and Malawi are still to finalise the process.

Commenting on the process, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made, said the movement of seed varieties across the region was crucial in providing support for improving regional seed security and seed exports in the Comesa region.

"The primary goal of the implementation of the domesticated Comesa seed regulations is to enhance entry into the region of quality seed and new improved varieties. Our local seed commands huge demand in the region and this programme is expected to usher in the much needed foreign currency from trade," said Dr Made.

Zimbabwe Seed Trade Association president Dennias Zaranyika, said despite such an initiative, there was still a need to guard against the proliferation of fake seed within the region. In light of this, the association in conjunction with various stakeholders would embark on sensitisation programmes to take advantage of the initiative to provide quality seed and increased competition.

"The implementation of this harmonised system is expected to contribute to seed and food security through increased investments in the seed sector," said Mr Zaranyika.

Comesa chief finance officer Gizila Takavarasha, said domesticating the Comesa seed regulations will allow Zimbabwe to align its seed regulations with those of the regional trade body.

"The aim of the harmonisation of the Comesa Seed Regulations was to increase regional trade on seed and now that Zimbabwe has domesticated the regional Comesa seed regulations thus creating an enabling environment for regional trade," she said.

The harmonised seed regulations will also integrate smaller and isolated national seed markets into one larger Comesa market for seed.

Federation of Farmers Union chairman Wonder Chabikwa, said Zimbabwe could take advantage of its expertise in seed production to feed into the entire region's bread basket.
- online
Tags: Maize,


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