Community-Based Partnership Expanding Opportunities for Women and Youth in Zambia
Guest post by Ann Steensland, Deputy Director, Global Harvest Initiative
In Zambia, 80 percent of the country’s 1.4 million farmers produce maize, yet only 27 percent of rural households are net sellers of maize, missing opportunities to supply local markets and move beyond subsistence production. A lack of access to productivity-enhancing inputs, good crop management practices and connections to maize markets are stumbling blocks for many of Zambia’s small-scale producers, particularly in remote areas.
To address these challenges, DuPont Pioneer and Musika, a non-profit Zambian company that supports private investment in smallholder agriculture, initiated the Zambia Advanced Maize Seed Adoption Program (ZAMSAP), a community-based partnership. Launched in 2015, ZAMSAP provides farmers with hybrid maize seed and advisory services, as well as training in basic agronomy and financial and market literacy.
As the project is implemented, 60 percent of ZAMSAP participants will be women and youth who typically have limited resources and little access to markets, yet have the potential to drive agricultural development in these areas. The initiative will employ women “lead farmers” and female and male company staff to help break down some of the traditional market barriers that prevent women and young people from reaching their potential. Since January 2016, 274 ZAMSAP demonstration plots have been planted through a pilot initiative involving 206 women groups, 57 youth groups, and 11 schools across the 10 districts in the North Western, Northern, Muchinga and Luapula Provinces.
I recently attended the launch of the ZAMSAP project which was held in the St. Francis community near the town of Solwezi in the Northwest Province just south of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border. In Solwezi, to date, 97 demonstration plots have been planted, 49 women farming communities, 43 youth communities and 5 schools are involved in the program. Approximately 200 people attended the event. The program included presentations by leaders of DuPont Pioneer, PANNAR Seed and Musika.
The Honorable Ephraim Mateyo, the Permanent Secretary for the North Western Province (the highest ranking local government official) attended the event and expressed his support for ZAMSAP. Attendees were given a tour of the demonstration plot which showed the benefit of hybrid seed technology. This was followed by a farmer “Q & A” session in which farmers asked about the ZAMSAP project, as well as questions relating to dealing with specific pests and accessing products such as seeds and herbicides. Local dancers performed during the event and there was a humorous skit demonstrating the proper way to plant maize.
ZAMSAP expects to reach 30,000 farmers in 2016, with the potential to scale up to reach approximately 100,000 maize farmers by 2018. With predicted yield increases of 100 percent, ZAMSAP can help transform a region of Zambia where economic growth is greatly needed. At the same time, ZAMSAP will strengthen the broader grain market, and bring financial benefit to actors along the maize value chain, most notably for farmers and their families.