successive small harvests, Zimbabwe is now producing less food than it eats.
After a long debate over using genetically modified seeds, the lack of food as prompted action in Zimbabwe. A new drought resistant seed for corn will be distributed this year. Farmers say that it is about time, but worry if will be cheap enough to afford.
From Reuters Alert Net, writer Madalitso Mwando describes the seed.
The Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre (SIRDC), in partnership with the University of Zimbabwe and Biotechnology Research Institute (BRI) has developed a drought-resistant variety of maize seed called Sirdamaize 113.
Farmers have had to wait between 150 and 180 days before harvesting their traditional maize crop, but the centre says the new seed takes only 136 days to mature.
Thomas Ndlovu, a smallholder farmer in Nyamandlovu, some 60 km (38 miles) from Bulawayo, said the new seed was welcome news, as he has lost his crop because of successive poor rains.
“This is what we have always asked for,” Ndlovu said. “My only hope is that this seed variety is affordable to us. We have for some time now been buying seed maize outside the country because the locally produced type is expensive.”
SIRDC says research into drought-resistant maize began more than a decade ago and has cost around $200,000. The centre’s current research forms part of a policy on food and nutrition security adopted by government early this year.
Already, more maize hybrids are being tested across the country as farmers prepare for the planting season.
This fresh commitment to scientific research could just a significant help in a country where smallholder farmers, who produce up to 70 percent of the country’s food, continue to face severe challenges from lack of farming inputs, absence of irrigation schemes and poor weather-forecasting techniques.