ZIMBABWE has the capacity to produce up to 10 times surplus maize for the export market without using genetically modified technology, a Cabinet Minister has said.
The country has maintained its stance against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), a modern technique involving artificial alteration of crop, plant or animal genetic nature, despite suggestions by some sections of society to embrace it as a way of improving yields.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister, Dr Joseph Made, said the on-going specialised maize production scheme under the Government initiated “Command Agriculture” programme does not involve GMOs.
“The maize that we are producing under command agriculture is clean maize that is GMO free. Zimbabwe is not really a net consumer. Our population is small, 14 million. When we look at the land that we have, we have much more land where we can 5-10 times produce maize that is required outside our borders and clean food in terms of GMOs,” he said.
The subject of GMOs has divided policy opinion in view of the adverse side effects on human health and negative impact on the environment.
Zimbabwe consumes on average 1.5 million tonnes of maize annually, which could be produced on 400 000 hectares of land alone. The command agriculture scheme, which has received funding of up to $500 million, is targeting an output of 2 million tonnes this season with surplus set to be put in strategic grain reserves.