The Water Efficient for Africa (WEMA) breeding programme has built its reputation over the last decade as a credible maize improvement project in Sub-Saharan Africa. Apart from developing a robust product pipeline of 75 maize hybrids, it has also offered seed companies and farmers a wide selection of products.
Furthermore, the project prides in working together with seed companies to help solve day to day challenges by farmers. Drought and food security are the core concerns of the project. It is with the vision of like-minded private companies like Ultravetis that WEMA is meeting its project goal of improving yields on drought-prone farmlands.
The long-term goal is to deploy these new varieties and make them available to smallholder farmers royalty-free through local African seed companies.
Inaugural discussion between Dr. Gospel Omanya, Senior Manager at AATF and Ultravetis Director, Mr. Wachira Muriithi, yielded a fruitful partnership that brought Ultravetis into maize seed business. Ultravetis was first licensed to sell its first WEMA hybrid (WE1101) in October 2013 rainy season. Within the last 4 years, Ultravetis have four more licensed WEMA maize hybrids, namely, WE2109, WE2107, WE2111 and WE3106. Ultravetis is a good example of companies that have been bold to tap in to opportunities and fly with it. Through WEMA the company has been able to increase its product range and network coverage.
The WEMA varieties are used by farmers in over 17 counties. Seed companies have ensured stable supply by partnering with agro-dealers in these regions. Ultravetis this year, enhanced its product visibility by branding its WEMA product by calling it ‘EvaZea’ the name has catch up like wild fire and is popular with farmers in its strongholds such as Western and Central Kenya.
Through aggressive marketing, Ultravetis sold over 50 tonnes of WE1101 in 2015. This is a commendable effort for the new entrant in the maize seed business. This year, Ultravetis spread its wings to Tanzania with the first sale of 4.5 tonnes of the hybrid WE2109.
Through the support of African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), which have continuously offered Ultravetis technical backing stopping on breeding high quality hybrid. Furthermore, WEMA has given companies a chance to interact and partly own hi-tech breeding technology at no cost (royalty free). It is AATF’s hope that more seed companies will join WEMA and buy-in into the climate smart technologies like drought-tolerant maize and insect-pest protect maize hybrid. Together, The AATF and Ultravetis partnership look forward to better maize harvests and livelihoods for our farmers.
WEMA is a public-private partnership founded in 2008 to develop and deploy royalty-free African drought-tolerant and insect-pest protected (climate-smart) white maize varieties for farmers. The project strives to increase maize yield and stability, protect and promote farmers’ investment in adopting best management practices.by