By Ndafadza Madanha
ONE of the county’s leading seed breeders Klein Karoo (K2) has partnered with thousands of small scale farmers around the country to grow sunflower for the export market.
K2 managing director John Makoni confirmed the development and said his organization had secured an off-taker for the sunflower in South Africa.
Makoni said the partnership will build a base of competent farmers who can grow sunflower for commercial purposes and help save the country millions in imports for cooking oil production.
“We have a top performing sunflower seed variety on the market and we have partnered small scale farmers to grow it to date we have sold seed to produce 15 000 hectares of sunflower and for this year a South African company will take up the sunflower. We hope with this initiative we are building a base of farmers that can grow sunflower and reduce the reliance on imports for cooking oil as we have rhe capacity to grow the raw materials”.
Makoni said his organization has also partnered small scale farmers to grow pastures for both the local and export market as a way of cutting costs for livestock farmers.
“We think that cattle and dairy farmers are reliant on processed feed which is expensive but if pastures are incorporated in the diet this can significantly reduce their costs. We have also partnered with small scale farmers and some of them have irrigation in their schemes while others do not have to grow the pasture seed”.
Meanwhile K2 has unveiled a high yielding wheat variety the Peregrine which has potential of up to 7-9 tons a hectare.
“For commercial farmers our wheat variety is much better than those found on the market. Our new variety the Peregrine has some outstanding attributes and one them is that it is high yielding with potential of up to 7-9tons a hectare. Also it matures very early 113 days, very good stand ability about 90cm height, very good tolerance package, protein content of 11.2%, adaptable to both high and low potential areas”.
Zimbabwe currently has a deficit in wheat production resulting in intermittent shortages of bread.
The wheat deficit is augmented by imports that continue to be a drain on the country’s shallow foreign currency reserves.
Makoni said besides the wheat variety the company had introduced two soyabean varieties on the market which had done well on the market.
He said owing to the changes in weather patterns that are now characterized by more frequent and severe droughts his organization was working on improving the genetics of their seed to match the changing climatic conditions.
“Owing to the changes in the climatic conditions we are working on improving the genetic of our seeds in particular maize, you may have noticed that our maize remains standing in the field despite the harsh weather conditions it is because we have deliberately incorporated drought resistance and we want all our genetics to perform in high and low potential areas”.
Makoni said K2 had a full range of seed for farmers as it believed their needs are different.
He said their vegetable variety was the widest on the market and included both open and pollinated seed.