ZIMBABWE – Seed Co, one of Africa’s leading seed producers, will invest US$10 million in acquiring a new artificial maize seed drier as it seeks to increase seed supply in the region.

Seed Co intends to commission the facility in February 2020 with a further objective to spread the technology to its key regional markets as time progresses.

The investment further strengthens the company’s ambitions curb seed post-maturity losses and further advancing processed seed market readiness.

The development comes on the back of decreased seed volumes uptake owing to a widely publicised drought forecast which dampened seed purchases by farmers in the Southern African region for the 2018/20 farming season.

As part of its efforts to mitigate the situation, the seed firm is on full drive targeting the supply of seed that will emanate from intensifying donor relief input support programs for granaries replenishment.

Seed Co limited group chief executive officer Morgan Nzwere noted that; “Cob harvesting and seed drying technology project construction commenced with commissioning planned for February 2020.

“The Artificial Maize Seed Drier is expected to reduce seed post-maturity losses and expedite processed seed preparedness.

“The technology will be deployed to key markets following success of the pilot in Zimbabwe.”

Regional sales volumes were 3 percent lower overall but gains were recorded in crops like soya, sorghum and cowpeas while in Zimbabwe volumes sales were 7 percent down compared to prior period.

Regionally Botswana, Swaziland and South Africa total volumes were 10 percent lower with maize falling by 18 percent ensuing from drought outlook dampened sales, reports The Herald.

Additionally the company lost Botswana Government maize tender on pricing due to undercutting by competitors impacting negatively on company’s aspirations.

In Tanzania seed volumes dropped by 13 percent due to softening of commodity prices, drought in the second season, a weaker Tanzanian shilling and reduced demand which saw revenue declining by 18 percent.

Despite the challenges, the company said that it has enough maize carry over stock to kick-start early sales across markets in the forthcoming season.

Going forward the company intends to bank on its infrastructure, brand equity, agility in decision making to survive economic turbulence.

The company also acquired Alliance Seed of South Africa, which will drive the vegetable seed production business.