THE Agricultural Research Trust Farm (ART) in Pomona, Harare, recently played host to the launch of the Bayer Dekalb hybrid maize seed varieties where Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos urged seed houses to uphold research and innovation to reduce seed production costs.
Dep Min Haritatos said seed houses should come up with solutions to the problem of high seed prices that are affecting farmers every time.
Bayer, a crop protection products provider, was launching the Dekalb maize varieties: DKC 80-33, DK 777, DKC 90 -89 and DKC 80-53 that are tailor-made for different agronomic regions in Zimbabwe.
The hybrid maize seed varieties are expected to give yields of between eight and 12 tonnes per hectare.
“With more players on the market, both wholesale and retail prices are expected to stabilise. Let’s continue innovating to get rid of unnecessary costs in the production of seed,” he said.
The coming on board of more players and improvement in organisational structure of the maize seed industry has improved the industry’s performance in terms of accessibility of quality seed by farmers throughout the country, further observed Dep Min Haritatos.
He, however, expressed concern over low yields among most smallholder farmers, which he said were still below one tonne per hectare.
“This problem could largely be addressed by improving their access to high yielding maize hybrids among other factors. The more the players that join the industry, the more vigorous research and extension input into the final product is expected.
“The entry into the seed space of Zimbabwe by Bayer is expected to further strengthen linkages between seed houses and agricultural research stations both public and private. We also expect to see more varieties that are easy to grow, climate smart and high yielding. Your (Bayer) coming in coincides with a time when we are all excited after producing 2, 7 million tonnes of maize this past season,” he said.
Bayer territory manager, Mr Farai Munyanyi said they had introduced the hybrid varieties to support farmers to sustainably meet food security needs and help stabilise yield performance.
“The maize seed varieties focus on yield stability, drought tolerance, disease resistance and good grain quality. Our farmers face many challenges accessing quality and reliable maize seed hybrids they need to produce high yields that can support their families and communities.
“We believe it is from high quality seeds that farmers can easily enhance their productivity and profitability; it is from high quality seeds that we generate jobs and incomes,” he said.
Mr Munyanyi said the DEKALB varieties would offer farmers climate smart options that can help make big leaps in fighting climate change, providing food and nutrition security and improving livelihoods.