ZIMBABWE – Seed Co Zimbabwe, a leading certified seed company in Africa, has launched three new maize seed varieties SC 547, SC 437 and SC 303 as part of its efforts to address farmers’ challenges posed by climate change.

The varieties were launched at the national annual field day at Seed Co’s Rattray Arnold Research Station in Goromonzi. The field day was attended by farmers from Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and Manicaland provinces and Agritex officers, among others.

The new variety, SC 303, is an ultra-early maize variety which is tolerant to heat and drought and yields up to 11,4 tonnes per hectare. It is ideal for marginal production zones with low rainfall or short rainy seasons.

The SC547 is an early maturity, disease -tolerant variety that can yield up to 12 tonnes per hectare, while SC 437 is a very early variety with good and heat-tolerant traits.

Speaking during the launch, AFC Holdings CEO, Mr. Francis Macheka, said he was impressed by the research that was being carried out at Rattray Arnold Research Station.

“Climate change is affecting agriculture. This season crops have been affected by the dry conditions with severe damage on rain-fed crops. We are living and experiencing the effects of climate change as observed on our cropping and yield story with effects such as floods, droughts, fires and several others,” he said.

The CEO noted that farmers and the agricultural value chain at large have felt the devastating effects of climate change such as the late start to the season, the prolonged dry mid-season dry spell, premature termination or end of the rainfall season.

He urged farmers in drought prone areas to opt for traditional crops as they perform well under arid conditions.

“The government has also introduced programmes aimed at increasing sustainability and productivity. Farmers are encouraged to actively participate in such programmes; Pfumvudza/Intwasa, Agroyield and horticulture programmes,” he said.

Mr. Macheka said AFC had partnered with Seed Co to ensure farmers were resourced. AFC is a one stop shop for development finance, commercial banking, insurance and leasing with special focus on agriculture development.

“Combining our efforts with Seed Co witnesses objectives of delivering excellent genetics will definitely result in farmers achieving their profitability. We want our farmers to be bankable. The AFC Leasing Company which offers tillage services to farmers. We have tractors countrywide and we lease to farmers. We also offer harvesting equipment,” he said.

As stated by Seed Co’s Managing Director, Mr. Terrance Chimanya, the company’s aim is to ensure farmers across Zimbabwe understand good agricultural practices for maximized return on their investments.

“With the farmer in mind, our scientists have come up with mitigation measures against the devastating effects of climate change producing locally adaptable genetics that align with every cropping programme and environment,” he said.

He added that they have a wide range of maize varieties for every agro-ecological region in Zimbabwe and for every cropping programme (grain silage or green mealies). We want to reduce the effects of climate change.

“We have come up with short-season varieties with high yields, production of drought-tolerant varieties that withstand long periods of moisture stress and production of varieties that are tolerant to diseases such as grey leaf spot and maize streak virus,” revealed the MD.

Since the 1980s, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) have spearheaded the development and deployment of climate-smart maize in Africa.

This game-changing work has generated massive impacts for smallholder farmers, maize consumers, and seed markets in the region.

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