By Ndafadza Madanha
THE Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has called for the use of quality seeds in order to attain sustainable food systems and nutrition in the country and on the continent.

At a time when FAO estimates the average adoption rates of improved varieties of three of the most important crops in Sub –Saharan Africa (maize, rice and cassava) is just 30 percent while up to 80 percent of seeds and planting materials used by farmers are sourced from non-quality assured channels in the region, FAO sub regional coordinator Alain Onibon says these shortcomings must be addressed to ensure agricultural development.

Addressing guests at the Seedco Mega field day held recently Onibon urged seed breeders to ensure farmers must have access to, and use, quality seeds and planting materials of well-adapted crop varieties, which satisfy end-user needs and preferences.

“Agriculture is key to feeding the nation, fueling economic growth and enabling development. It creates jobs, has an economic multiplier effect and brings national dignity.

At the root of all crop production is Good Seed. Seed Co is talented in breeding improved and well-adapted varieties that return good yields to farmers making crop production viable. This special role makes Seed Co a special organization in Zimbabwe and in Africa as a whole.

It is an open secret that agriculture is the backbone of the Zimbabwe economy and is vital to national well-being. Seed Co as one of the leading Seed Houses in the country is a national treasure.

Zimbabwe’s development is premised on improvements in agriculture and food systems. Local competitive production, optimal land use and use of improved seed are critical to ensure economic transformation and employment creation throughout the agricultural value chains. Seed Co offers a full seed basket with cereals, small grains, legumes and vegetables. Seed is a technology and not merely grain. Rigorous research and testing efforts go into the production of good seed.”

He said farmer productivity is threatened by pests like Fall Armyworm, diseases like Maize Necrotic Lethal Disease (MNLD) and climate change and urged Seed Co to play its part in the war of helping farmers to become resilient by developing new climate smart, stable and high yielding hybrid varieties.

“Farmer productivity is key to sustainable food systems and resilient households. A balanced portfolio of crop management inputs (including high quality seed and proper agronomic management) ensures that have in their hands the tools for adaptation and resilience. Making the most of the superior genetics offered by Seed Co requires that farmers adopt good agricultural practices that include Early land preparation, Soil sampling and correcting pH and soil condition, Procuring inputs early and applying them properly, using high quality seed of varieties adapted to a farmer’s ecological zone”.

He said FAO remained committed to working with government and the private sector as epitomized by the long standing collaboration with Zimbabwean seed industry players.

For instance, the Livelihoods and Food Security Programme (LFSP) funded by DFID, and managed by FAO collaborates with Prime SeedCo on the provision of biofortified vitamin A maize on the Zimbabwean market.

“Productivity is never an accident. It is intentional and a result of continuous improvement and partnerships. This is why we commend Seed Co for partnering with and supporting the Government of Zimbabwe in its programmes, and offering agronomic and extension support to farmers delivered in person, using radio, television and new media”.

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