06 January 2024, Africa: Maize is a vital crop in Zambia and Tanzania, both for farmers’ economic livelihoods and for delivering nutrients and sustenance to a large group of people. But maize is threatened by climate change, like more severe droughts, and from pests like fall army worm (FAW), which can completely devastate farmers’ fields.
Against this backdrop of looming threats, CIMMYT, as part of the Southern Africa Accelerated Innovation Delivery Initiative (AID-I) Rapid Delivery Hub, is partnering with the Zambia Seed Company Limited (Zamseed) to distribute seeds that are drought tolerant and resistant to the ravages of FAW. And because maize is a staple of many people’s diets, CIMMYT and Zamseed are also developing and distributing maize varieties enhanced with vitamin A.
To uphold maize variety integrity, CIMMYT and Zamseed are engaged in the capacity building of quality assurance and quality control for local stakeholders.
CIMMYT’s engagement with Zamseed involves efforts to popularize high yielding, drought-tolerant, and vitamin enhanced maize varieties in Zambia and Tanzania. Some of these efforts include demonstrations of the new varieties, field days held at different stages of maize development, and deliberate engagement of women throughout the entire seed selection, planting and harvesting effort.
“Our partnership with Zamseed started in October 2022,” said Ir Essegbemon Akpo, a CIMMYT maize seed systems specialist. “It has been a fruitful collaboration, delivering significant outputs to thousands of farmers in Zambia and Tanzania.”
To date, Zamseed has held 300 and 500 demonstrations in Tanzania and Zambia, respectively. The company has held many field days at the demonstration sites to showcase drought tolerant and vitamin A enhanced maize to hundreds of small-scale farmers.
“We have witnessed many farmers who visited the demonstration activities who are excited to see the new high yielding and drought tolerant varieties,” said Amsal Tarekegne of Zamseed.
Seeded by funds from the AID-I project, Zamseed is producing 60kg of Early Generation Seed (EGS) of parents of a FAW-tolerant hybrid maize variety. The company plans to produce 200kg of this hybrid for commercialization and launch in 2024.
To ensure that seeds delivered to farmers are of the highest quality, CIMMYT is working with Zamseed to develop quality assurance and control frameworks, involving genotyping of selected seeds at various times during the seed multiplication and distribution process.
Zamseed has been servicing the requirements of farmers in the sub-Sahara region since 1980, focusing on products that will enhance the profitability of the small-scale farmer and ensure household food security.
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