Zim seed company eyes East African market
By Tichaona Kurewa
HARARE – Zimbabwean seed company, Klein Karoo says it is spreading its wings to East Africa with Kenya being the first target to be supplied with seed.
In Zimbabwe, the company currently controls about 20 percent of the market with giants such as Seedco, Pioneer and others controlling the other market share.
The company which produces a variety of grain and vegetable seeds, is targeting to produce 6 000 tonnes in 2017 up from 5 000 in 2016.
The company has capacity to produce 10 000 tonnes of seed per annum.
Klein Karoo country director, John Makoni said the company has since developed seed varieties that suits the Kenyan climate.
“We are focusing on expanding the market into the region especially Kenya where we have developed a variety of hybrid seeds which suit their conditions,” Makoni said.
Makoni said the company would reach full capacity in five years’ time.
“The company has been facing difficulties penetrating a market which was dominated by giant seed companies but has since gained its footing and is hoping to improve the market share to 30 percent from the current 20 percent,” he said.
Klein Karoo Zimbabwe invested over $6 million in building capacity through the acquisition of 80 percent shareholding in local seed producer Agriseeds.
Klein Karoo is a subsidiary of Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed ZAAD Investment Limited and the company is pan African operating in other countries such as South Africa, Mauritius and Zambia.
The seed firm is 64 percent indigenous and the remainder is owned by Klein Karoo South Africa. It also has operations in Zambia.
Agriculture is a major economic activity in most Southern African countries, Zimbabwe included, hence any move to strengthen the industry is most welcome.
In terms of exports products such as tobacco, sugar, cotton and flowers dominate the country’s export list, making the industry the second largest foreign currency earner after mining.
With heavy rains received in most parts of the country boosted by the Command Agriculture programme introduced by Government and the Presidential Input Scheme, the country is anticipating a bumper harvest, a move that will also push down the country’s import bill which was dominated by products such as maize for the greater part of 2016.