The project is aimed at making smallholder farmers resilient to the negative effects of climate change.
The Zambian Open University is leading the implementation of the project in Zambia in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Professional Insurance and Musika.
It is running from 2017 to 2019, in 12 districts drawn from Eastern, Southern and Central Provinces of Zambia. In the 2017/2018 agricultural season, a total number of 60,000 smallholder farmers are expected to be reached.
Dr.Kalawole Odubote, who is the project team leader, said during a Seed Fair held in Chipata District that the project intended to improve access to, and use of stress-tolerant seeds, and increase access to and use of ICT-based weather and agronomic information.
Dr. Odubote, who is also the Dean of the School of Agricultural Sciences at Zambian Open University said the project also hoped to expand farmers’ access to weather-indexed insurance as well as promote integrated croplivestock farming systems. He said smallholder farmers would be able to address the negative effects of climate change and improve food production once they adopted and applied the climate-smart agricultural solutions holistically.
“Part of what we are doing is that we have been training camp extension officers in target areas on how to ensure access to and the use of stress tolerant seeds; giving farmers climatic information and agronomic practices, as well as promoting crop-livestock integration so that smallholder farmers have diversified streams of incomes and farming activities,” he said.
Dr. Odubote said the project was also holding seed fairs in all the target districts in addition to linking smallholder farmers to markets.
“We must not forget that smallholder farmers are responsible for 75 percent of food production in this country so if they are affected in any way by the change in climate, then the food security is also affected,” he said, “This is the more reason we cannot fold our hands and wait for the smallholder farmers to be brought down; we need to assist them to be able to stay in business.”
At the same event, the District Commissioner Kalunga Zulu applauded the holding of the Seed Fair saying it was in line with the second National Agricultural Policy of 2016 whose objective was to promote an efficient, competitive and sustainable agricultural sector which assured food and nutrition security, increased employment opportunities as well as incomes.
He said in a speech read for him by the acting District Agricultural Coordinator Alphonce Kahalawe that the event was timely especially that the district was approaching the 2017/2018 agricultural season where smallholder farmerswould require information about the right seed to plant; chemicals to use and the fertilizers to apply in order to improve yields.
Chief Madzimawe of the Ngoni peoples of Chipata district said the chiefdom was prepared to work with any stakeholder that would implement agricultural technologies aimed at improving the production and productivity of smallholder farmers in the area.
“As a chiefdom we are ready to work with all the stakeholders who are coming in the chiefdom to help us improve on the various types of crops we intend to grow this year,” Chief Madzimawe said.
In Eastern Province, the project is running in Nyimba, Petauke, Chipata and Lundazi districts. Mazabuka, Monze, Choma and Kalomo districts are earmarked to benefit in Southern Province, while Mumbwa, Chibombo, KapiriMposhi and Serenje are the targeted areas in Central Province.