SOMALIA – Maize farmers in Somalia have hailed a new hybrid maize variety, already registering a staggering 30 to 50% increase in yield potential as compared to local varieties since its introduction late last year.

Dubbed Siman, the high-yielding variety has been termed as a significant breakthrough for Somalia’s agriculture.

The variety, Siman, was officially registered in October 2023, heralding a new era for variety release in the country and it is a testament to the power of collaboration and innovation in agriculture.

The milestone is the hard work of Filsan Seed Company in partnership with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) aimed at boosting maize production in Somalia.

According to experts, the variety has been nurtured through years of rigorous testing for adaptation to local conditions in Somalia.

The registration by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (FMoAI) marked the beginning of Siman’s journey, and the results have been nothing short of remarkable.

Early maturity, stress tolerant

According to experts, the hybrid not only exhibits uniformity in the field but also matures a week earlier than local varieties and performs better under moisture and nutrient stress.

It owes its origins to CIMMYT’s Stress Tolerant Maize for Africa (STMA) program, generously supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and USAID.

Filsan secured exclusive rights to Siman’s parental lines in 2020, paving the way for a transformative impact on maize farming in Somalia.

CIMMYT reported that, out of the 20 MT seeds produced by Filsan during 2023 planting season, 50 per cent were directly sold to farmers while the remaining half was sold through a promotional program.

Impressive yields

The variety has been greatly embraced by farmers, reporting impressive harvests.

According to Farhia Mohamud Mohamed, leader of Deeq Agriculture Cooperative revealed that her group embraced Siman wholeheartedly during the Gu 2023 growing season.

She noted that after purchasing 125 kg of Siman for her women’s cooperative farmers, they planted the hybrid on a 5-ha plot while dedicating the rest of their land (25 h) to local maize.

The results were staggering — a harvest of 136 bags of Siman grain each weighing 100 kg, compared to a mere 120 kg from the local variety on the remaining 25 ha.

With a larger seed size and remarkable uniformity, the cooperative experienced not only a faster sale but also commanded a 10% higher selling price in the market.

Looking into the future, Filsan foresees an expansion in both the production and promotion of Siman hybrid seed among farmers.

The initial phase involved limited seed marketing in 2023, and the next steps include a deliberate expansion into new geographic regions and reaching out to a greater number of farmers.

This forward-thinking strategy guarantees the ongoing transformative influence of Siman, paving the way for a more promising and prosperous future for communities engaged in maize farming.

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