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Friday, July 12, 2024

Zim fights drought with science and innovation

Story by Ruvarashe Mariga

THE Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre (SIRDC) has reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring food security in the country, in the wake of the El-Nino-induced drought.

Through innovative research and development, the SIRDC is working to improve crop yields, develop drought-tolerant maize seeds and produce high-quality livestock feeds.

In an interview with ZBC News on the sidelines of their annual General Meeting in Harare this Friday, SIRDC Chief Executive Officer Dr Leonard Madzingaidzo said the organisation is developing and producing drought-tolerant maize seeds and livestock feeds to mitigate the impact of drought on humans and cattle.

“The SIRDC has a variety of programs that it is implementing in the face of this drought season, we are now producing maize seed which is drought tolerant and the seed has changed the fate of farmers, especially small-scale farmers and as a result, the government saw it feet to include these seed varieties in its Pfumvudza/ Intwasa programme.

“We also developed more seed varieties that are drought-tolerant and will be released in the market this year. We also have the traditional grains programme which will be introduced in dry regions such as Matebeleland North and South and also. We have also initiated a programme in the livestock sector to develop a model that can be used by smallholder farmers to produce feedstock to sustain their livestock in the face of this drought,” he said.

Efforts are also underway to establish a modern laboratory to produce vaccines to protect livestock from diseases.

He added, “We have developed a conceptual framework model for the Turnkey plant to manufacture foot and mouth vaccines. What this means is once we have full capitalisation, we will be able to manufacture our own foot and mouth vaccines here in the country and about 6 million vaccines per year will be manufactured.”

Meanwhile, a representative from the Office of Vice President General Retired Dr Constantino Chiwenga, Mr Mandlenkosi Khumalo, urged SIRDC to consider collaborations with development partners.

“I also note the requirement of a budget of US$45 million for the establishment of a turnkey plant to produce 6 million doses of the foot and disease vaccine to meet local requirements. Despite, government support I also urge SIRDC to consider funding through collaboration with development partners,” he said.

With government support and collaboration with development partners, SIRDC is poised to make a significant impact in the lives of smallholder farmers and rural communities as the country navigates the challenges of climate change.

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