ZIMBABWE – Three key Agriculture based research institutes in Zimbabwe have agreed to join forces with an aim to explore opportunities in addressing food insecurity and tackling nutritional challenges facing the country.

These include the Scientific and Industrial Research Development Centre (SIRDC), International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and Matopos Research Institute (MRI).

The partnership follows a meeting with senior executive scientists from the three institutions, with the partnership expected explore various segments in the agriculture sector, reports the Chronicle.

ICRISAT is an agricultural research focusing on five nutritious drought–tolerant crops while SIRDC is a government research arm mandated to spearhead research development and technology transfer in areas of strategic importance to the economy.

On the other hand, MRI provides research based technologies, knowledge and information aimed at facilitating a sustainable and viable agricultural sector in the country.

SIRDC chief executive officer, Professor Robson Mafoti, who identified agriculture mechanisation, post harvesting and harvesting technologies as its area of expertise, said that the partnership will be instrumental in bringing an overall success.

“We have since realised that there are so many areas we can work together. The opportunities for working synergies are there. We are looking at the development of small grains and their use in communities.

We are also looking at the whole processing of small grains, converting small grains into cakes and bread,” he said.

On his part, ICRISAT Zimbabwe representative, Mr Kizito Mazvimavi, said that the institution will collaborate cooperate with SIRDC as well as the department of research and specialist services in delivering world class research outputs.

“We are exploring ways of collaborations with our enhanced work in crop improvement with modern breeding approach. Specifically, we are looking at breeding new varieties using modern technologies.

We focus more on sorghum and millet and groundnuts and livestock. We grow groundnuts varieties with the new breeding programme that we are going to start,” he noted.

Mr Kizito noted that ICRISAT launched the Accelerated Variety Improvement and Seed Delivery of Legumes and Cereals in Africa, in February this year as part of its ambitions of modernising breeding and increasing incomes for smallholders in seven countries in Africa.

MRI acting head, Mr Givions Sisito, added that the partnership has “opened us up for joint ventures where as a nation we can explore different opportunities for partnerships in terms of research work.

… so that we can also address key challenges that we need to solve such as food security and nutrition. MRI, ICRISAT and SIRDC can now complement each other on a discussion tempo like an indaba where we can address key issues.”