ZAMBIA – The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted negatively on agricultural production around the world disrupting supply chains and production of food.
In light of this, Zambia’s first seed company, Zamseed has ventured into winter maize production in Zambezi Valley to cushion the country against potential food shortages.
Being a major undertaking by the company, it has been made possible courtesy of the recent investment it clinched from impact investor SilverStreet Capital.
Zamseed secured K91 million (US$5m) investment from UK based investment advisor managing African agricultural funds, SilverStreet capital in June to expand its operation and ensure continuity of business.
The financing is set to be utilized to revamp the company’s processing plant in Lusaka, expand its research capability, vegetable seed product line and meet its strategic goal of becoming a regional seed company.
The seed producer also revealed that it had developed an “exciting” new ultra-short season hybrid maize variety, ZMS301, that would be available in the country from October this year, to enable small-holder farmers to adapt to climate change.
The variety is fast-maturing and drought-tolerant, enabling farmers to have more flexibility in seasons when the rains are less reliable.
According to reports by The Scoop Newspaper, the winter maize project guarantees that Zamseed will have enough certified maize seed for both the coming season and the next, despite the uncertainties of COVID-19.
Zamseed’s Chairman Jordan Soko stated, “Since 1980, Zamseed has been committed to serving Zambian farmers with quality, high yielding certified Zambian seed and prides itself on this and increasing yields for small-scale farmers.
“I am proud that Zamseed has fulfilled its mandate to help small-scale farmers in Zambia and the region in a time of international crisis.”
Director of Planning and Information at the Ministry of Community Development, Edmond Mwakalombe said, “Through an initiative such as this, our farmers, the poor and the vulnerable that my Minister tries to save, will be able to have food and to ensure that they are food secure throughout the season.”
This is the second time in Zamseed’s history that the company has helped face-off a major threat of food shortage.
In 1986, after a devastating drought that affected the entire Southern African region, Zamseed was asked by the First Republican President Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, to produce substantial sorghum and millet seed in the Zambezi Valley during the winter to ensure that farmers could continue to produce these essential crops.
Dr. Bhola Verma, Zamseed’s Director of Research, led the response in 1986, and is once again 34 years later leading Zamseed’s programme to support the nation’s farmers.
Dr Verma said, “This time it is another challenge: COVID-19. The original mandate that was given to Zamseed, when it was established as part of the nation’s overall food security structure, is being fulfilled yet again and that is my pride today.”
To meet this challenge caused by COVID-19, Zamseed collaborated with Zambia’s largest food producer, Zambeef, which owns Chiawa Farm and has made available substantial irrigated hectares for Zamseed to plant the seed maize.
“We are excited to be working with Zamseed to maintain and help to ensure food security for Zambia going forward post-COVID-19,” said Zambeef’s Chiawa Farm manager, Rob Hoskins-Davies.
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