ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe’s largest seed producer, Seed Co Limited, is to develop seed drying facilities at total investment cost of US$10 million which will expedite delivery of seed into the market and cut down losses, reports the Herald.

The seed drying technology is expected to be commissioned by 2020 with the pilot project being undertaken in Zimbabwe first before being adopted in the company’s other regional markets.

According to the company’s chief executive officer, Morgan Nzwere, Seed Co expects increased efficiency with a 50% reduction in dry down time and a faster process.

“We have been experiencing late rains which have affected dry down of maize.

As a result, we end up having seed late into the market which is why we are having dryers to try and speed up the process,” he said.

Mr Nzwere also added that the adoption of the technology will also see the company curb challenges arising from climate change which consequently affect seed delivery into the market.

“We are seeing increased diseases because of the changing climate.

Climate change has had a lot of impact on the industry such that the procurement of dryers is a necessity so as to bring seed early in the market,” he added.

SeedCo is also in the process of developing early maturing varieties with improved yield, disease resistance and green mealie native traits.

“We have come up with new seed varieties that mature early.

For example, there was the four series and now there is the three series which matures earlier and therefore requires less rain,” said Mr Nzwere.

The company has increased its focus on small grains which are seen as a solution to food security especially due to the threats in agriculture, a result of the current climate change.

However, the production and utilization of small grains still remains low despite their ability to thrive under little rain.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), most of the small grains produced in Zimbabwe are consumed by the producing household or sold on informal markets, mainly for traditional beer brewing.

The Zimbabwe Policy Economic Analysis and Research Unit (Zeparu) has also revealed that small grains production has been in a constant decline since 1988.

Scientists have also called on farmers to increase production of the drought resistant grains to alleviate hunger.