The Zimbabwean Embassy in Senegal has been given 20 hectares of arable land for the production of white maize in the west African country.
Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Senegal, James Maridadi said he decided to experiment on the production of white maize after realising that the west African country focused on growing yellow maize for stock feed.
He said he was initially working on a five-hectare piece of land in Dakar, Senegal, which has largely been successful. Said Maridadi:
What happened is that when I initially came here, I realised that they don’t do white maize in this region, they do yellow maize, which is mostly for stock feed and they import about US$160 million worth of white maize to subsidize their consumption.
I then approached the Ministry of Agriculture in Senegal, where I got five hectares of land to do an experiment on white maize production.
I got seed from Zimbabwe, bought fertilizer here in Senegal, and did the five hectares and the results were amazing.
I did a field day where I invited about 200 commercial farmers and 500 subsistence farmers to come and it was a huge day because the government of Senegal also came to participate and 11 other ambassadors from other nations in the African continent.
What has happened now is that the government of Senegal has allocated more land, about 20 hectares of land, so this year I am going full force in this experiment of ours. I will use the SC719 variety being done by SeedCo.
Maridadi, a former ZBC presenter and MDC MP, said African countries should wean themselves off relying on Europe to feed their people. He said:
In Africa, I believe we have to eat what we produce and produce what we eat therefore we cannot have a situation where African countries import food from Europe, look how many countries have been affected by their inability now to import from Ukraine.
What we want is that when we introduce the white maize seed variety from Zimbabwe which works here, SeedCo, for example, can then sell intellectual rights to Senegal and Senegal can start manufacturing those seeds under license from Zimbabwe thereby earning foreign currency for the country, that is what we call economic diplomacy.