The International Crop Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has started its expansion programme on the development of small grain crop varieties such as sorghum, millet and legumes for improved yields.

ICRISAT, a SADC facility at Matopos recently received additional funding amounting to $30 million from its parent institution in India to expand its operations of developing foundation seed for crops that do well in low rainfall areas.

In an interview with ZBC News, country representative for ICRISAT Dr Kizito Mazwimavi said their activities have become even more critical for food security given the unpredictable weather that is a result of climate change especially in the sub Saharan Africa.

He said the money allocated to them will enhance their foundation seed production such that the seed houses can be able to benefit and assist farmers who are desperate for quality seed.

Dr Mazwimavi also said they continue to work with small holder irrigation schemes in subcontracting them to grow foundation seed adding that they are in consultations with Silalabuhwa Irrigation Scheme farmers with a view of contracting them in their research.

Small grains have been identified as food for the future given their high nutritional value and ability to grow under difficult conditions of long dry spells and limited moisture.

The groundnuts seed project is also thriving at the institution with farmers in Muzarabani and Gokwe also participating.

ICRISAT Matopos is also home to the Gin Bank that is housing thousands of SADC foundation seed varieties.