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MORE than 80 seed suppliers and farmers converged for the third edition of the Seed Market Day,
Maize seed waits on the conveyor belt in the seed processing plant at Bidasem, where it is being visually examined and manually sifted by workers, picking out material such as damaged or spoiled seed or pieces of cob. After initial cleaning and sorting, all seed that goes through the plant passes through quality control. If a sample from a batch is found to more have more than 2% impurities, they are either separated out by hand like this or using a gravity table. The batch is then resampled to ensure a clean bill of health to continue processing. Bidasem is a small seed company based in the central Mexican plains region known as the Bajío. It produces approximately 10,000 bags of maize seed a year, each holding 22.5kg, as well as producing wheat and oat seed and marketing seed of other crops. Despite their small size, Bidasem and similar companies play an important role in improving farmers’ livelihoods. “Our aim is to provide farmers with quality seed at accessible prices, that is adapted to the conditions we have here in the Bajío. It’s a great satisfaction, when farmers achieve the yields they need,” says director general María Esther Rivas. “Without CIMMYT, we couldn’t exist,” says Rivas. She sells four different maize hybrids, all formed from freely-available CIMMYT parent lines. “Really the most important thing is to produce your own hybrids, and for us it wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t have the germplasm from CIMMYT. What we’re currently producing is 100% CIMMYT.” The relationship between Bidasem and CIMMYT is now deepening through participation in the MasAgro initiative, which includes training courses for seed companies and collaborative trials to evaluate the best seed. Photo credit: X. Fonseca/CIMMYT. For more on seed production at Bidasem, and CIMMYT's role in providing the best seed, see CIMMYT's 2012 e-news story "The seed chain: producing better seed for small farmers," available online at: http://www.cimmyt.org/en/newsletter/598-2012/1398-the-seed-chain-producing-better-seed-for-small-farmers.
Crop production

MORE than 80 seed suppliers and farmers converged for the third edition of the Seed Market Day, 

MORE than 80 seed suppliers and farmers on Tuesday converged on Nyanyadzi for the third edition of the Chimanimbeu Seed Market Day, which was organised by Towards Sustainable Use of Resources Organisation (Tsuro).

Seeds for drought-resistant crops such as sorghum, finger millet, wheat, beans, groundnuts and roundnuts were exhibited and sold to farmers, agro-dealers and representatives from some Government departments.

Tsuro Trust programmes officer Mrs Roseline Mukonoweshuro said: “This market creates a platform for farmers to sell and exchange seeds for the forthcoming planting season. There are a variety of seeds in store and we are happy that the market day has been hugely subscribed. Such platforms enable farmers to have access to seeds before the season starts. Farmers have embraced the OPV initiative hence the success of the seed market day.”

Tsuro, through the Seed and Knowledge Initiative, has played a critical role in imparting knowledge on traditional methods of small grains and other indigenous crop preservation to enhance food security and adapt with climate change.

Farmers interviewed by The Herald thanked Tsuro for coming up with the annual seed marketing day saying they were geared for the forthcoming planting season.

Wengezi farmer, Mr Peter Manjoro of Ward 2 in Mhandarume said: “We are prepared for the season and I can safely say we now have all seeds we need. Last season I harvested 50kg of groundnuts and I am hoping to surpass that. Tsuro assists us with technical expertise, for instance, on the importance of banking seed for future planting and we are really grateful.”

Another farmer, Mr Mickie Chieza, a beneficiary of the Presidential Inputs Scheme, hopes diseases will not affect crops.

“Resilient community-based seed systems are critical for food security and we are heading in the right direction. We wish Government would support us in securing buyers who will buy in large quantities. Last season our crops were plagued with diseases but we managed to sail through,” she said.

Most farmers, however, said they were ready for the 2018-2019 cropping season and had acquired open-pollinated varieties (OPV) seeds suitable for their drought-prone and arid district.

OPVs are credited with performing better than hybrid seeds under arid conditions, hence their potential to score better yields and ultimately boost food security.

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