Unam conducts maize, mahangu seed evaluation trials
02 June 2021 | Environment
THE University of Namibia (Unam) will conduct maize and mahangu seed evaluation trials for a period of five years. The project is expected to research the seeds of other potential crops such as vegetables that are currently imported in the country.
The trials will be done in collaboration with the Namibia Agronomic Board (NAB), which intends to produce adaptable seeds for farmers to ensure that the country is able to produce its own food rather than importing.
Seed variety is currently being assessed at the Ogongo campus, with the aim of seeing progress made with the planting of white maize and pearl millet seed trails.
Omusati governor Erginus Endjala, who spoke at the seed project day last Friday held under the theme ‘promoting food security through seed research and production’, said it is concerning that the country is only able to produce an annual average of 28% and 57% of mahangu and maize grains consumed in Namibia.
This, Endjala said, leaves the country with an average grain deficit of 72% for mahangu and 43% for maize.
Sharing the same sentiments, Unam lead research professor Rhoda Birech is also worried that Namibia remains a net importer of both agronomic and horticultural seeds, a gap which the ongoing seed variety research aims to address.
As a result, seeds research trials are currently being done at three other stations - Mashare Irrigation Project, Zambezi Vocational Training Centre and Doringboom Unam.
"No country can be food secure if it has no seed of its own. Thus, the idea of planting seed variety is to see which ones best adapt in what condition and in order to best distribute it to other farmers," she said.
Meanwhile, NAB manager of research and policy development, Gerson Kampungu, said seed research is significant in driving sustainable crop production as the production of high-quality seeds is the foundation of long-lasting profitability for a crop farming business.
Kampungu said Namibia imports 100% of white maize seeds being used for crop production, hence seed research and seed production is important as it strives to reverse the situation for the country to be food self-sufficient.
"The success of seed research and seed production is envisaged to significantly contribute to increased food crop production and, in the process, create much-needed employment," he said
Kampungu also noted that during the 2020/21 financial year, NAB put aside N$737 000 for the implementation process. The board will also be availing N$1 million during the 2021/22 financial year to ensure that the seed research is upscaled to all production zones in the country.
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