Wimbainashe Zhakata Post Correspondent
FARMERS in Manicaland have been urged to heed agronomic advice and grow certified drought tolerant and early maturing seed varieties in arid and semi-arid areas in light of El Nino-induced weather extremes.
In recent seasons, the staple crops of maize and traditional grains were badly hit by increasing severity of weather, leaving thousands semi-destitute and dependent on food aid.
The weather shocks have, however, offered major opportunities to seed companies to innovate and introduce seed varieties that are more resistant to harsh conditions to promote food security and improve livelihoods in dry regions.
One of the seed companies — Agriseeds has introduced a highly resistant seed maize variety — ZAP 611 to mitigate drought ahead of the 2019/20 cropping season.
AgriSeeds sales and marketing director Mr Ivan Craig said the seed variety was fairly a new variety and in its second season.
He added that the seed variety was adaptable to all the ecological regions in the country.
“It is important for farmers to choose to plant the right seed varieties for their regions to maximise on productivity. ZAP 611 is a fairly new seed variety that was tried and tested in all the ecological regions of Zimbabwe before release.
“It takes about 10 years to come up with a seed variety because it is convectional breeding process and after that Government will try it for about three years in parallel with our trials, and then do market tests,” said Mr Craig.
ZAP 611, he said, had different characteristics that benefited farmers in the event of drought.
“The unique characteristic found in this variety is that it is adaptive to all the ecological regions in the country. You can plant it in marginal and high potential areas and produce maximum yield that one can expect in that particular region,” explained Mr Craig, adding that it changed to suit specific climatic conditions.
“You will find that the same seed variety has very good drought tolerance, and if the rains disappear early before it reaches maturity, it withstands and survives the dry conditions and grows when it eventually rains without much impact to the potential yield. It also has good disease tolerance and does well in irrigation schemes, where you find a lot of pests and diseases,” said Mr Craig.