Columbus Mabika Herald Reporter
Local seed producer SeedCo has developed and licensed two rice varieties SCOP02 and SCOP04, which are adaptive to the local climatic conditions and rainfall patterns, as it seeks to ramp up rice production in the country.
The country presently imports over 95 percent of its rice despite having ample production capacity underpinned by growing domestic demand for the crop.
The progress has been hailed as a land mark which will save the country millions of dollars in the commodity importation from countries like Thailand and China.
In an interview yesterday, SeedCo Global Head Research and Development Dr Gorden Mabuyaye said the processes are in place to make the seed available to farmers who want to undertake its production.
“With the idea of saving the country millions of dollars in importation fees in mind, we undertook research and development of these two rice varieties which upon completion tried and tested in local climatic conditions and rainfall patterns,” he said.
“The pilot project on the seed was successfully and we licensed it. Currently, we are in the process of bulking up seed in preparation for those farmers who intend to undertake its production in the next agricultural seasons.”
Dr Mabuyaye said the country could cut annual rice importation expenditure of over $100 million and save the much-needed foreign currency, if the country starts commercial rice production.
He said as seed producers they will continue conducting a research to find other varieties of rice could also be grown in the country.
“It’s actually our policy that we should not import things that we can grow locally and the rice is one of the crops, which we have to grow locally so that we save our foreign currency,” said Dr Mabuyaye.
“So our research department is busy researching on more other varieties which we can take on board and which we can grow locally and which can produce better results.”
According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency latest report, the country splashed $13,1 million on rice imports in last year.
Last year, more than $98,9 million was spent between January and November.
Statistics show that the Zimbabwe previously produces around just a tonne of rice annually, while it imports over 250 000 tonnes.