Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Agriculture research bodies collaborate

Agriculture research bodies collaborate

Agriculture research bodies collaborate

Part of the SIRDC delegation during a tour of the ICRISAT Food Technology Laboratory

The Chronicle

Pamenus Tuso

THREE key research institutions in Zimbabwe have pledged to work together to explore diverse opportunities in addressing food security and tackling nutritional challenges facing the country.

On Friday, senior executives from the Scientific and Industrial Research Development Centre (SIRDC), met the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and Matopos Research Institute (MRI) scientists on the outskirts of Bulawayo and agreed to collaborate on their various research activities.

ICRISAT does agricultural research on five nutritious drought–tolerant crops while SIRDC is a government research arm mandated to spearhead research development and technology transfer in areas of strategic importance to the economy.

MRI also provides research based technologies, knowledge and information aimed at facilitating a sustainable and viable agricultural sector in the country.

SIRDC chief executive officer, Professor Robson Mafoti, said the SIRDC officials’ visit was to appreciate the work of MRI and ICRISAT.

“We have since realised that there are so many areas we can work together. The opportunities for working synergies are there. We are looking at the development of small grains and their use in communities. We are also looking at the whole processing of small grains, converting small grains into cakes and bread,” he said.

“We can start assisting each other in agriculture equipment, post harvesting and harvesting technologies. These are areas where we feel we are very strong but we can also learn from MRI on how to propagate these crops with good agronomistic practices.”

ICRISAT Zimbabwe representative, Mr Kizito Mazvimavi, said they intend to cooperate with SIRDC as well as the department of research and specialist services in delivering world class research outputs.

“We are exploring ways of collaborations with our enhanced work in crop improvement with modern breeding approach. Specifically, we are looking at breeding new varieties using modern technologies.

“We focus more on sorghum and millet and groundnuts and livestock. We grow groundnuts varieties with the new breeding programme that we are going to start,” he said.

“In February we launched the Accelerated Variety Improvement and Seed Delivery of Legumes and Cereals in Africa. The broad agenda of the programme is to modernise breeding and increasing incomes for smallholders in seven countries in Africa.”

The initiative seeks to accelerate the rate of genetic gain for performance in mandate crops to an estimated 1, 5 percent annually.

MRI acting head, Mr Givions Sisito, said the engagement had destroyed the silo mentality between the research organisations.

“It opened us up for joint ventures where as a nation we can explore different opportunities for partnerships in terms of research work… so that we can also address key challenges that we need to solve such as food security and nutrition. MRI, ICRISAT and SIRDC can now complement each other on a discussion tempo like an indaba where we can address key issues,” said Mr Sisito.


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