Wilfred Mwangi, program leader for the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) Project, presented the DTMA award for best breeding team in southern Africa to the Zambian Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI) on 26 March 2009. Peter Setimela, seed systems specialist, and Bindiganavile Vivek, maize breeder (both from CIMMYTZimbabwe) were among those who attended the ceremony at Mount Makulu Research Station in Chilanga, Zambia.
“I am truly excited to be a part of such an occasion. Awards such as these are very important as incentives for our researchers,” Dr. Watson Mwale, director of the ZARI, told guests.
A day before the ceremony, on 25 March 2009, 20 participants were in a variety release awareness workshop, supported by the DTMA. It was organized to enhance knowledge among researchers and the national variety release committee (NVRC) on variety release guidelines and procedures in Zambia. The researchers were plant breeders from seed companies and the national agricultural research systems (NARS).
During the workshop, variety release procedures and guidelines in selected countries in sub-Saharan Africa were compared and NVRC members were updated on new tools for screening and evaluating maize genotypes under drought and low-Nitrogen (N). The workshop also outlined methods for interpreting data for variety release and shared experiences on variety release from a seed company’s perspective.
Dr. Moses Mwale, deputy director of ZARI, said; “The current rise in food prices can be addressed through increased productivity by using improved varieties. I hope that the presentations and discussions made during the workshop will result in speeding up the release of improved varieties and distribution of quality seed.” Mwale also added, “Harmonization of variety release and registration in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region will help achieve this goal.”