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Swaziland on track with maize variety development

Farmers in Lesibovu, Swaziland, are delighted; their new seed company “Lesibovu Community Seed Company” is completing its registration. This is a big step for the small community, because thanks to The New Seed Initiative for Maize in Africa (NSIMA) Project, the farmers will now be able to produce their own seed and buy it at a lower cost than if they were to import it. The farmers of Lesibovu could not celebrate their success without thanking Nelson Mavuso, seed quality control specialist from Department of Agricultural Research and seed services, Swaziland, as well as CIMMYT seed systems specialists, Peter Setimela, and John MacRobert, and maize breeder, Cosmos Magorokosho, with whom they collaborated to make their dream come true. To complement this development, a training workshop for about 20 farmers on community seed will be conducted by March 2009.

During 1-3 February 2009 Setimela and Magorokosho visited Swaziland to view this and other developments for themselves. “We are planning to plant two hectares of breeder and foundation seed of ZM 309 in April and May,” Victor Semelane, a maize breeder, Department of Agricultural Research and seed services from Swaziland, told them proudly, as they passed by. “There is also a lot of interest from a number of NGOs in the multiplication of certified seed of the OPV.” ZM 309 is a new open pollinated variety (OPV) suitable for drought-prone areas that was released in Swaziland in 2008.

T. Gama, a Swazi extension officer department of extension Cereals Promotion Unit, said: “Nineteen of the twenty maize demonstrations we planted in November are doing very well and we’re planning fifteen field days around February or March, to demonstrate these varieties to farmers.”

Setimela and Magorokosho, as well their collaborators, recommendreplacing ZM 421 and ZM 611 with some newer drought tolerant OPV’s. “We are very much encouraged by all this progress in Swaziland,” confirmed Setimela and Magorokosho.

A national coordination unit (NCU) meeting was also held, where it was recommended that a course on managing maize trials would be organized for June/July 2009 and new proposals were to be made in accordance to the NSIMA vision and mission.