With the launch of the Zambia Advanced Maize Seed Adoption Program (ZAMSAP), DuPont Pioneer is working with the government of Zambia through the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Gender and Child Development, as well as the local non-profit Musika, to support women and youth farming communities. ZAMSAP will provide seed to demonstration plots and field training sessions in remote districts where market access is poor and extension services are limited—all with a goal of improving the productivity and livelihoods of smallholder farmers.
Joshua Munkombwe, Musika Operations Director, visited with us about the non-profit’s goals and ZAMSAP.
1. What are you most looking forward to as a result of participating in ZAMSAP?
Musika is a Zambian non-profit company which supports private investment in the smallholder agricultural market. It helps businesses develop mutually beneficial and transparent commercial relationships with smallholders that integrate the provision of information and technology adoption, and provide confidence and long term incentives for smallholders to invest in their farming business. In doing this, Musika strives to ensure women and the youth are key participants in improved agricultural markets.
Therefore, the ZAMSAP approach of including women and youth in agriculture production i.e. training, access, participation etc., and the fact that market services, including extension and training being made available to farmers in traditionally isolated areas–sometimes for the very first time–is something that we’re looking forward to.
2. Describe how you envision the future of farming because of the potential of ZAMSAP?
We envision improved participation of women and youth, open opportunities and a chance for them to increase yields, household incomes and food security. Also, we anticipate an increase in innovative market development, such as on-farm research, on-farm or community-led input championed by women entrepreneurs, integrated input and off-take opportunities for the smallholder farmers. This all leads to more opportunities for farmers and well-informed agriculture-related decisions.
3. How do farmers take their maize to market now? How do you think ZAMSAP will make that easier for them?
Currently, in these isolated districts the main market for smallholder farmers is the government’s Food Reserve Agency (FRA) and informal traders
Increased production on the farmer’s side and organized aggregation points with ZAMSAP partnerships of both input and off-take agreements with farmers will open up huge opportunities for farmers to market their crops in transparent and guaranteed markets.
4. What impact will hybrid maize have on farmer productivity?
They should see an increased yield per unit area and thus increased income. A survey conducted by Musika in 2015 showed that when farmers convert from traditional seed to hybrid seed, they generate an estimated six percent increase in yield. It further revealed that there was an increase in farmers buying inputs that are coupled with technical advisory services, which improved their farm management practices, resulting in a 31 percent increase in yield between 2014 and 2015 farming seasons.
We believe this success will build the confidence of smallholder farmers to increase production and increase investment in other technologies, such as herbicides in order to increase efficiency.
5. What will be the biggest factor that convinces the farmers to adopt the agronomic advice from the ZAMSAP program?
We’ve found that farmer-managed demonstrations supported with small seed sample packs that other farmers test on-farm, increases adoption of advice as do field-based, practical trainings. Also, the farmer’s access to products to start early on-farm experiences and not just demonstration plots, builds early commercial appreciation of the products leading to development of a sustainable customer base. Also, nothing beats seeing with your own eyes – the “power” of demonstration.