Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building

Plant breeding programs in Zimbabwe

The Republic of Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. Zimbabwe has a tropical climate with a dry winter from April to August. The agricultural sectorZimbabwe_Map accounts for about 16% to the GDP and involved about 63% of the economically active population. The main crops are cash crops tobacco, cotton, soybean, staple maize and wheat.

Zimbabwe has earned a well deserved reputation of agricultural research through its long established national agricultural research system. The national breeding programme has managed to cover all the important crops and the traits that are of high priority in each crop. The collaborative links formed between private and public sector have also helped strengthen the national breeding programme.

The main achievements of the plant breeding programmes have been increases in crop yield potential and tolerance to diseases and drought. Major crop improvement programmes focus on maize, sorghum, wheat, tobacco, barley, soybean, cowpeas, bambara nuts, sunflower, groundnuts, sugar cane, cotton, coffee and potatoes.

The budget cuts introduced by the government since the 1990s have stalled progress. As a consequence, most public institutions are in urgent of financial resources to hire more personnel, training in plant breeding and for improving laboratory facilities.

Research and education institutes with activities in plant breeding

Public Institute


Crop Breeding Institute (CBI)
No Website available

The CBI is part of the Crop Research services Division in the Department of Agriculture Research and Extension of the Government’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. It was established in 1909 when the maize breeding programme started and is also responsible for the development of wheat, soybeans, groundnuts, bean, cowpea, potatoes and Barbara nuts.

Private Institutes


Website available in English

Seed-Co has the oldest (30 years) and the largest private plant breeding programme in the country, with a market share of over 70% of the seed sales. The company has eleven plant breeders responsible for maize, wheat, sorghum, soybean and groundnuts.


Website available in English

Pioneer is the world's leading developer and supplier of advanced plant genetics to farmers worldwide. Headquartered in Johnston, Iowa, Pioneer provides services to customers in nearly 70 countries. It has been in Zimbabwe since 1986 with two breeders for its sole maize programme. The main traits of focus are high yield, disease and drought tolerance including grain quality.


Tobacco Research Board (TRB)
Website available in English

Even though Zimbabwe is one of the world's leading competitive producers of high quality tobacco, TRB is the only organization carrying out plant breeding and plant biotechnology in the country.


Information by Emmanuel W. Murwisi (2005). - Information based on the Zimbabwe's full report from the PBBC survey. Last revised 29-06-2010, GIPB.