Small Scale Farmers Empowered to Produce Own Seed
By Wellington Zimbowa
ZIMBABWE –Over 4,000 small-scale rural farmers have been relieved of the huge cost of seeds through a seed multiplication initiative.
The Zimbabwe Super Seeds (ZSS) co-operative, a community-based seed company, is empowering small farmers to be self-sufficient through contracting groundnut, maize and sugar seed production in the eastern parts of Zimbabwe. The initiative is dispersed under ZSS’ out-grower scheme.
ZSS, among other interventions, provides foundation seed, seed agronomy, handling and management training in a programme that ran from December 2015 to February 2017.
ZSS Managing Director, Mr Nelson Munyaka confirmed that more than 4000 smallholder farmers have benefitted from the programme to date.
“Our seed multiplication initiative is empowering small holder farmers who are now venturing into an area previously a preserve for large and commercial players. The market is ready for these as they have now become active players in seed production,” he said.
ZSS also procures seed from contracted farmers, assist with processing, marketing as well as commercial distribution of the produce
Seed certification standards training and agriculture extension management are also offered to the small farmer beneficiaries.
The Nyokas, a couple and beneficiaries of the seedling programme, planted 8 and 2 hectares of maize seed and groundnut crop respectively.
“We are expecting a bumper harvest, and we thank the cooperative for this achievement and training. We only succeeded because we followed the lessons given by agriculture extension workers and we urge other farmers do the same if they are to improve their farming skills and knowledge,” the couple said.
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISA) team leader, Dr Kizito Mazvimavi said research is key in transforming agriculture focusing on breeding improved varieties ideal for the dynamic climatic conditions, adding that Zimbabwe boasts of a vibrant research centre as noted from huge achievements in crop breeding processes.
Wellington Zimbowa is a freelance Zimbabwean journalist who has written for various publications including The Southern Times, a regional Southern African paper.