Local varsity develops new wheat variety for Zambian farmers

The University of Zambia (UNZA) School of Agricultural Sciences has developed a new wheat variety to bolster production in Zambia.

According to the Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU), the new variety has a higher yield component and a farming season beyond winter, thanks to its ability to withstand heat.

“This is expected to increase income for farmers, due to increased production,” ZNFU said.

Zambia consumes an average of 540 000 tons of wheat per annum, but last season experienced a deficit of 250 000 tons. Millers had to import 150 000 tons as a stop-gap measure. Imports were stopped a week ago when the harvest of the new crop started
According to ZNFU, the national output for the 2017/2018 season is expected to rise, given the availability of electricity during the peak of the growing season. Globally, output is projected at 737.83 million tons, which will lead to lower prices.

The new variety also uses less fertiliser compared to existing varieties. This will be attractive to local producers concerned with the high cost of agricultural inputs.

ZNFU said the new breed has already been patented and is ready for industrial uptake by seed companies.
Meanwhile, an economist urged government to increase funding to the agriculture sector in the 2018 national budget.

“Investing more in the sector will stimulate growth, given that it is already on an upward trajectory,” said Mambo Hamauudu.

The 2018 budget will be tabled at the end of the month.

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