2. Zimbabwe: Government promotes open-pollinated seeds over hybrids (African Agriculture)

| December 8, 2008

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The Zimbabwean government is promoting open-pollinated varieties of maize and other crops this growing season. The government has distributed 260 tonnes of open-pollinated seeds to farmers and institutions in a bid to improve long-term seed supplies.

Basil Nyabadza is a Zimbabwean advocate of small grain production. He explains that the country abandoned its tradition of using open-pollinated seeds many years ago, favouring hybrid seeds instead. Unlike open-pollinated varieties, the seeds from hybrid crops are not normally saved. Therefore, imported hybrid seeds had to be purchased each year.

The combination of recent droughts and the use of hybrid seeds have seriously depleted seed reserves, Mr.Nyabadza adds. The country’s extreme inflation and embargoes that block trade with Zimbabwe also limit its import options.

Douglas Nyikayaramba is chairman of Zimbabawe’s Resource Mobilization and Utilization logistics sub-committee. He says the government is trying to reduce the country’s dependence on imported seeds. The government also encourages farmers to start local seed banks.

Open-pollinated seeds recently distributed to farmers include maize, millet, sorghum, upland rice, groundnuts, cowpeas, and sunflower. The bulk of the seed was distributed to the country’s most arid provinces – Manicaland, Midlands, and Mashonaland East.
Click here to see the notes to broadcasters on open-pollinated seeds