African countries must enhance food production to prosper as no one can be successful when they import most of their food, Zimbabwe's Ambassador to Senegal James Maridadi said last week during a field day in Kaolack, Senegal, where he has spearheaded maize production.
Ambassador Maridadi started the initiative after realising that most of the staple food in most of the countries he covers, which include Senegal, Guinea, Mali, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde and The Gambia, is imported and hence expensive.
"In order to enhance food security in Africa, we must produce all that we eat and eat only that which we produce," he said.
This prompted Ambassador Maridadi to approach the Ministry of Agriculture in Senegal with a view to introduce maize farming in the country.
He was then linked to an association of women farmers, Federation des Producteurs de Mais du Saloum (FEPROMAS).
"They are based in a region called Kaolack, some 220km south of the capital Dakar and are dedicated to maize production," said Ambassador Maridadi. "The Embassy (of Zimbabwe in Senegal) was allocated 5ha of land, which we put under SC719, a variety developed by Seed Co in Harare and adaptable to Senegalese climatic conditions.
"The crop did well and harvesting will commence end of October 2021 about 11 weeks after planting. Expected yield is 10 to 12 tonnes per hectare.
"This is the first time that a white variety (of maize) meant for human consumption has been successfully cropped in this country. The end game is to introduce sadza as a substitute to the local staple food."
The embassy has identified two boarding schools and two restaurants where sadza will be sold on an experimental basis.
Relish comprising green vegetables (tsunga, rape, mubowora, among others) will also be introduced.
Said Ambassador Maridadi: "The idea is to help Seed Co, a Zimbabwean company to penetrate the West African market with their varieties.
"A field day to showcase the crop was held at the farm on October 5. The success of the event was beyond expectations. Next year it will be bigger and better."
The project is part of Zimbabwe's engagement and re-engagement programme being led by President Mnangagwa.
On its Facebook page, FEPROMAS said as part of their partnership with Zimbabwe for the implementation of new hybrid maize seed varieties in Senegal, they were paid a visit by Ambassador Maridadi and his delegation on September 22.
The delegation was welcomed by FEPROMAS president Mrs Nimna Diayté, at their testing parcels of hybrid varieties located in the village of Dertady, Darou Salam Municipality in the Kaolack area.
The visit preluded the preparation of the "Open Door Day", dedicated to the presentation of their new variety of SC 719 hybrid maize.
The international meeting took place on October 5 in Dertady, bringing together Zimbabwe, Senegal, Gambia, Ghana and development partners such as the World Food Programme.
Said Mrs Diayté: "We live in an interdependent world. The efforts to strengthen solidarity with neighbours or with the rest of the world are cooperation. The first link in this chain of international solidarity is bilateral cooperation.
"This event also marks a major momentum in promoting bilateral cooperation to strengthen food security between Senegal and the rest of the world."
This saw the participation of the administrative and political authorities, technical services of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Equipment and the Ministry of Livestock and Animal Production, development partners, and the Ambassadors of Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Namibia and Madagascar.