By Scoop Reporter
ZAMBIA Seed Company (Zamseed) has implemented a winter seed maize project in the Zambezi Valley to cushion the country against potential food shortages, marking only the second time in the company’s history for such a major project to be sanctioned.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted negatively on agricultural production around the world disrupting supply chains and production of seed and food. International organisations, including the UN, have warned that the world is on the edge of a food crisis worse than any seen for at least 50 years.
In light of such a threat the Zamseed Board of Directors took the decision to significantly increase Zamseed’s seed production by planting a winter seed maize crop. This was made possible with recent investment from impact investor SilverStreet Capital. The project guarantees that Zamseed will have enough certified maize seed for both the coming season and the next, despite the uncertainties of COVID-19.
Maize is a summer crop but, due to the remarkably warm temperatures at Zambeef’s Chiawa Farm, good soil, and a secure water source from the Zambezi River, a winter seed maize crop is possible. On a recent tour of the project, Zamseed’s Chairman Jordan Soko stated:
“Since 1980, Zamseed has been committed to serving Zambian farmers with quality, high yielding certified Zambian seed and prides itself on this and increasing yields for small-scale farmers. I am proud that Zamseed has fulfilled its mandate to help small-scale farmers in Zambia and the region in a time of international crisis.”
Director of Planning and Information at the Ministry of Community Development, Edmond Mwakalombe also took part in the tour of the farm and said:
“Through an initiative such as this, our farmers, the poor and the vulnerable that my Minister tries to save, will be able to have food and to ensure that they are food secure throughout the season.”
This is the second time in Zamseed’s history that the company has helped face-off a major threat of a food shortage.
In 1986, after a devastating drought that affected the entire Southern African region, Zamseed was asked by the First Republican President Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, to produce substantial sorghum and millet seed in the Zambezi Valley during the winter to ensure that farmers could continue to produce these essential crops.
Dr. Bhola Verma, Zamseed’s Director of Research, led the response in 1986, and is once again – 34 years later – leading Zamseed’s programme to support the nation’s farmers.
Dr Verma said: “This time it is another challenge: COVID-19. The original mandate that was given to Zamseed, when it was established as part of the nation’s overall food security structure, is being fulfilled yet again and that is my pride today.”
To meet this challenge caused by COVID-19, Zamseed collaborated with Zambia’s largest food producer, Zambeef, which owns Chiawa Farm and has made available substantial irrigated hectares for Zamseed to plant the seed maize; a unique and successful partnership between two historic Zambian companies to support the nation’s smallholder farmers in this time of need.
“We are excited to be working with Zamseed to maintain and help to ensure food security for Zambia going forward post-COVID-19,” said Zambeef’s Chiawa Farm manager, Rob Hoskins-Davies.
Since 1980, Zamseed has been serving Zambian farmers with quality, high yielding certified Zambian seed and prides itself on this and its focus of increasing yields for farmers.