Seed Co Zimbabwe managing director Mr Denias Zaranyika has been elected president of the African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA), a body formed in 2000 to look into various issues impacting the seed industry in Africa.
The election took place during the 2016 AFSTA annual congress held in Nairobi, Kenya, last week. Mr Zaranyika, who was vice president of the organisation for the past two years, will be deputised by Mr Riadh Gabsi of Tunisia.
He took over from Nicholas Goble of South Africa who stepped down after serving his constitutional two-year tenure.
Zimbabwe Seed Trade Association chairman Mr Walter Chigodora, who also attended the Nairobi congresscommended Mr Zaranyika for the “good and productive work” and for being the first Zimbabwean to hold such an important position.
Offering a solid framework for exchange between the major players of the African private seed sector, the congress discussed current issues affecting seed production and trade in Africa which included climate change, the impact of dwindling fortunes of pollination on seed production and seed harmonisation regulations in Africa.
The conference was opened by Kenya’s Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Mr Willy Bett.
Before his elevation, Mr Zaranyika had served on the board of AFSTA for the past seven years — the last two years as vice president. Apart from being a board member, and latterly vice president, he was also the chairperson of the Communication and Advocacy Committee where he used his position to influence Zimbabwe’s bid to host the 2015 congress. Other past presidents of the association include Jitu Shah from Kenya (2012 to 2013); Enock Chikava, Malawi (2011-2012); Marcel Kanungwe, Zambia (2008-2009); Mark Sachs, South Africa (2006-2007); Raouf Ghariani, Tunisia (2004-2005); Guy Blaise Satsa, Cameroon (2002-2003); and Dr Nathaniel Tum, Kenya (2000-2001).
In his acceptance speech, Mr Zaranyika assured the more than 400 delegates that he would execute his mandate to lead the seeds organisation “with the utmost transparency and boldness to face the myriad of challenges currently facing the continent’s agricultural sector”.
He emphasised the need for closer collaboration to ensure a seed, food and nutrition secure Africa noting that at a meeting of the Heads of State and Government of African Union Member States in 2013 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, African leaders made a declaration to end hunger in Africa by 2025 under the Framework of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme.
Mr Zaranyika said this was achievable if the seed industry and all other stakeholders aligned their priorities and played their part with the right focus.
He outlined some of the issues that face the continent as climate change mitigation with respect to the development of early maturing and water use efficiency; food security; improving farmer yields; growth of seed trade regionally, continentally and intercontinentally; development of disease tolerant and resistant cultivars; regional co-operation; and strengthening of seed associations.
The 2017 AFSTA congress will be held in Dakar, Senegal, from February 28 to March 2. Cairo, Egypt, will host the 2018 congress.