Business

‘Region requires 2 million tonne seed’

MAIZE

TRYNESS TEMBO, Lusaka
THE Alliance for Commodity Trade in East and Southern Africa (ACTESA), a specialised agency of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) says the region needs over two million tonnes of various seed with 70 percent being maize annually to effectively produce good crops.
Currently, the region is producing less than 500,000 tonnes annually which has negatively affected the productivity of farmers.
ACTESA seed development officer John Mukuka said yields in COMESA countries are very low at about 1.5 tonnes per hectare compared to Asia, America and Europe who are at over five tonnes.
Dr Mukuka said when he led a delegation of farmers from east Africa visited Seed Control and Certification Institute in Chilanga on Wednesday that the difference yields has affected food security in the region which has a population of  about 620 million people of this 130 million people have a challenge of access food and are hungry.
“The whole region produces less than half a million tonnes of various seeds but COMESA requires region needs over two million tonnes which comprise rice, maize, wheat, groundnuts, beans and soya beans among others to be food secure,” he said.
Dr Mukuka also said the seed development department has embarked on a programme of translating farming brochures into local languages in all COMESA member states to allow farmers have more information which distinguishes fake seed from genuine ones.
He said if farmers are able to distinguish between fake and genuine seed, it will help boost productivity of farmers.
ACTESA objective is to integrate smallholder farmers into national, regional and international markets under COMESA.

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