Dec. 20, 2017
Zimbabwe has introduced cotton hybrid seeds with potential to improve yields by as much as 45 percent when compared with the traditional varieties, an official has said. Hybrid seeds require less water and have a higher yield potential compared to non-hybrid varieties.
Studies have shown that the hybrid seeds, which are generally less water intensive, have a yield potential of between 25 percent and 45 percent higher than non-hybrid seeds. Quton, the country’s largest cotton seed company, said some hybrid cotton seeds were released to farmers in November for trials in preparation for commercial production.
In the quest to improve quality and product performance, Quton developed hybrid cotton seeds that achieve higher yields and offer superior fibre properties. The company has already introduced the hybrid seeds in Zambia and will begin commercial distribution in Malawi next year. The trials are ongoing in Ghana and Nigeria.
“We have released hybrid cotton seeds for trials so that farmers can compare them with traditional varieties,” sales and marketing manager Mrs Petronella Gwasira said.
“In the next farming season, we are hoping to start commercial distribution.” Mrs Gwasira said Quton distributed the hybrid seeds through local cotton companies enough to plant about 600 hectares. India’s leading agri-biotech company Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company, acquired a controlling stake in Quton in 2015 from Seed-Co in a transaction worth $10 million. The acquisition gave the Indian firm a platform to introduce hybrid seeds to Africa. The foray into African market is expected to strengthen Mahyco’s positioning in the global cotton market. Quton also has operations in Tanzania and Malawi, which predominantly use open pollinated varieties.
While Africa was a major cotton growing region, the continent was not using high yielding seeds. It said it would start introducing hybrid varieties before moving to Bt seeds. Zimbabwe’s cotton production recovered last year thanks to the Presidential Input Scheme, which saw the Government investing $42 million to support about 155 000 farmers. Cotton output rose by about 150 percent from 28 000 tonnes in 2015/16 season—the lowest output in more than two decades to about 72 000 tonnes in the last season.