Agriculture

Go for new genetics, farmers told

LIVINGSTONE MARUFU

Local farmers should go for new genetics in the upcoming 2020/2021 summer cropping season to improve yields in harsh climatic conditions, Seed Co head agronomist Wendy Madzura has said.

Zimbabwe’s national yield per hectare is about 0.8 tonnes, mainly caused by droughts and poor agronomic practices.

In her season preparedness presentation this week, Madzura said good agronomic practices and choosing the right seed are key in improving the country’s national output per hectare.

“Go for new genetics every time because they are improved with new technologies, high yields and high drought tolerant as well as defensive agronomy traits,” Madzura said.

She said farmers have to test PH levels in their soils to know the level of acidity in the soil and put the fertiliser to better use.

Seed Co has introduced three new varieties which include SC419, SC 555 and SC659 to improve yields and resist harsh weather conditions.

This has seen low yield varieties like 400 series improved to over 11 tonnes per hectare.

The seed company has also introduced a new soyabean variety, SC Spike, which has yields of above five tonnes per hectare.

In the sugar beans category, the seed manufacturer has SC Gadra and SC Ukulinga which have yields of above 2.5 tonnes per hectare.

Madzura said farmers should use conservative farming methods to preserve moisture in case of midseason droughts and dry spells.

Small scale farmers are already implementing pfumvudza method with farmers putting mulch to conserve moisture and commercial farmers using zero till planters so as not to disturb soil structure.

Recently, Seed Co was targeting to produce 73% early maturity varieties of the total seed produced in the forthcoming summer cropping in an effort to guarantee farmers better yields.

Despite Zimbabwe and regional meteorological services forecasting normal to above normal rainfall this upcoming season, Seed Co has prepared drought tolerant varieties.

Seed Co, whose profit dwindled last year due to severe mid-summer drought, is looking for more innovative ways to improve short maize varieties to become more resistible to dry spells.

The African seed company has started the top of the range researches at its Kadoma Research Centre where it’s taking new breed varieties to very drought prone.

Seed Co is improving SC301 (tsuro), SC419 (tsoko) and SC529 (mbizi) to be more adaptable to these drier conditions.

Scientists in Zimbabwe say they have developed new heat and drought-tolerant varieties of maize and will be put on the markets next season.

New seed varieties were developed to combat drought-induced food insecurity that affected millions in southern Africa two years ago.

Government scientists are also researching faster-maturing and drought-tolerant seed varieties, holding out the hope of muchneeded relief for thousands of farmers across the country.

Agriseeds sales and marketing director Ivan Craig said seed producers or breeders have to come up with more improved ways of dealing with dry spells.

“To be honest long season varieties no longer work even under irrigation as water sources are no as high they used to be and boreholes are no longer as prolific as they used to be due to dry spells,” Craig said.

“Even under irrigation you need more time to irrigate, you use more electricity and more you spend more money which means that a farmer is eating up on the bottom line which is not good for agriculture business.”

Seed Co has invested over ZWL$28m towards research over the past six years in a bid to keep pace with latest farming, climatic and environmental demands.

Climate change is forcing many seed producers to be innovative, particularly in producing new seed varieties that are drought tolerant, pest resistance and produce improved yields.

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