|1,7m people require food aid — Mujuru|
|Thursday, 30 August 2012 00:00|
“According to the 2012 Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee Survey, an estimated 1,7 million people in Zimbabwe require food assistance today and household food insecurity, in Zimbabwe, and indeed other parts of the world, has been attributed to recurrent droughts and the absence of suitable crop varieties,” she said.
“In the face of this challenge, the Government has over years implored agricultural research centres to come up with new crop varieties suitable for drought-prone areas.”
According to the final crop assessment report by the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development 1 689 786 hectares were put under maize during the 2011/12 agriculture season.
Forty-five percent of the crop, which is 722 557 ha, was a complete write-off.
She said this would contribute towards improved food security in Zimbabwe in line with Government policy.
The Acting President said the Sirdamaize 113 variety demonstrated Government’s commitment to increasing and diversifying agricultural production capacity in Zimbabwe. Sirdc used the molecular marker-assisted selection techniques and conventional plant breeding methods to come up with the Sirdamaize 113.
The research started 15 years ago and was funded by Sirdc to the tune of US$200 000. About 200 tonnes of Sirdamaize 113 would be available on the market during for the 2012/2013 summer cropping season. This will cover 8 000 hectares for commercial grain production with Sirdc indicating that it had put in place an expanded programme to successively increase the amount of the Sirdamaize 113 variety to meet demand for drought-tolerant seed maize by the nation.
Acting President Mujuru encouraged farmers in marginal rainfall and drought-prone areas to adopt drought-tolerant seed maize like the Sirdamaize 113 in their plans for the coming planting season.
Key characteristics of the Sirdamaize 113 include early maturity (136 days), drought tolerance and resistance to foliar diseases such as maize streak virus, grey leaf spot and maize rust.