Elita Chikwati Senior Agriculture Reporter
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga has called for stronger collaborations and synergies among ministries and relevant departments in supporting research and development at the Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre (SIRDC) for the institution to continue to be a hub of technological solutions for sustainable economic development.
VP Chiwenga said this yesterday after touring SIRDC to see how the institute could be assisted to fulfil its mandate and how it could contribute to the attainment of Vision 2030.
He was accompanied by Cabinet Ministers, permanent secretaries, senior Government officials and SIRDC senior officials.
The tour included the National Metrology Institute that offers internationally traceable calibration services, the aeroponics facility where the centre is producing disease-free Irish seed potatoes and the Geo Information and Remote Sensing Institute, among others.
The team was impressed by the initiative being made by the centre to manufacture agriculture and mining machinery.
VP Chiwenga said he was pleased by the work being done at the centre and said the institution could provide technical solutions to the nation and contribute towards the attainment of Vision 2030 if fully supported.
He urged the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement to look for a suitable farm for SIRDC where the institution could carry out research in crop and livestock production.
VP Chiwenga said if fully supported, SIRDC would be able to meet its mandate of carrying out research and development for the benefit of manufacturing, service, agricultural and mining sectors.
“When comprehensively supported, a well-equipped SIRDC will be a haven of research activity as various experts and students of science and technology, as well as other innovators would yearn to access the research facility,” he said.
“It is, therefore, my appeal to key stakeholder Ministries to support SIRDC in terms of a meaningful budgetary allocation and target releases.
“The state of financial affairs here requires Government, in consultation with the private sector, to explore other avenues of funding.”
VP Chiwenga applauded centre for making strides in research and development, especially in reverse engineering which he said required financial support.
SIRDC chief executive Professor Robson Mafoti said the institute required funding to carry out research, commercialise it and be able to come up with solutions to local challenges.
“SIRDC houses the Food and Nutrition Council, Technology, the Commercial Information Promotion System and the Korea Programme on International Agriculture (KOPIA),” he said.
“SIRDC has developed drought tolerant seed and now we have five cultivars, including short season and high yielding. We have also come up with the rice germplasm and have been developing animal vaccines and acaricides.
“SIRDC has great potential to deliver and contribute towards the attainment of Vision 2030.”
SIRDC was established in 1993 through the Research Act Chapter 1022.
The centre has 12 research institutes mandated to carry out research and development, provide consultancy to local and regional enterprises, adapt imported technology to suit local needs and commercialise research products and process for the benefit of the nation, among others.