ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe’s giant seed producer Seed Co has unveiled two climate-resilient grain varieties, SC665, a medium maize hybrid, and SCXH102, a sorghum variety, to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Mr Terrence Chimanya, the company’s Managing Director said that Seed Co has been investing in research and development to create climate-smart varieties in light of the challenges posed by climate change amid El Niño fear.

The research and development division is working tirelessly to ensure product development that is very competitive and up to date given the current climate change crisis,” said Mr Chimanya.

The climate-smart seed varieties are specifically bred to be more tolerant of drought, heat stress, and other climate extremes, helping farmers adapt to changing conditions.

By offering improved resistance and potentially higher yields, the varieties can help farmers maintain or even increase their production despite the challenges of climate change.

The milestone comes after Seed Co experienced a decline in seed sales due to a projected poor rainy season and reduced Government orders for State-funded programs.

However, the company saw an increased demand for early maturing, climate-smart maize varieties across all agroecological regions for December plantings.

In addition, Government orders for small grains production under irrigation through commercial programmes also increased, Mr. Chimanya noted.

“Our focus as a business should be to manage risks, take charge of the markets, and maximize sales,” said Mr. Chimanya.

The 2023/24 season has been challenging due to El Niño’s impact on rainfall patterns. November saw minimal rain, causing extreme dryness with poor distribution.

In the first week of January 2024, however, the climate returned to dry conditions, with most of the country receiving only a third of its usual rainfall, highlighting the season’s unpredictability.

These drastic fluctuations led to several negative consequences such as drier periods that resulted in lower dam levels and increased water usage beyond normal levels. Erratic rainfall patterns impacted seed germination and contributed to crop scorching due to temperature extremes.

The climate change phenomenon, characterized by erratic weather patterns, has disrupted the agricultural season, raising concerns about potential food price hikes and shortages.

However, while neighboring Zambia has declared a national disaster in response to anticipated food insecurity, Zimbabwe has assured citizens that they are taking appropriate steps to ensure enough food for communities and that no one will go hungry.

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