Unique maize seed varieties launched

Pioneer Hi-Bred (Zimbabwe) unveiled the new seed products in Mazowe on Wednesday at a function graced by farmers and top government officials, who included vice-president Joice Mujuru and agriculture minister Joseph Made. Mujuru declared that such innovations could restore Zimbabwe’s position as the breadbasket of southern Africa. “I would like to thank our investors in the US because this will improve our agriculture,” she said. “There’s need for us to continue having support from outside.” She said this would eliminate hunger in the country and in the whole sub-region. Pioneer Hi-Bred’s Zimbabwe operations manager, Daniel Myers said it was through such innovations that his company, the largest seed producer in the world represented in 165 countries, had managed to attain a market share of 22 percent in Zimbabwe, from only three percent when they set up in the country in 1992. Myers revealed that Z$80 billion had been given out to farmers this season to produce the new seed varieties and an output of 33 000 tonnes was expected. “Next year we should be able to start exporting,” Myers said, adding that the company exported to countries like Malawi, Kenya and Tanzania. The company’s national agronomy manager, Munyaradzi Mutsvairo, led guests on a tour of a farm where the two new maize varieties have been tried successfully. He said the main feature of the two new varieties was that they could attain yields of up to 12 tonnes peer hectare, compared to other varieties which had only managed 10 tonnes per ha. He said trials had been carried out at over 100 sites countrywide. One of the seed varieties could do well in both dry and wet regions while the other one required lots of rain or irrigattion. Mutsvairo said the seeds produced excellent grain quality and had good resistance to common diseases.

March 2006
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