Zambia Gov Ministers Address Agriculture and Nutrition at DuPont Pioneer – GHI Event
Guest post by Ann Steensland, Deputy Director of Global Harvest Initiative
Zambia’s natural resource base, stable government and investor-friendly policies make it a potential breadbasket for Southern Africa. Zambian agricultural producers are a testimony to its agricultural promise. The country’s large-scale farms are some of the most productive in Africa and an emerging class of medium-scale farmers is contributing to the agricultural value chain. Small-scale farmers are protecting their soils and increasing yields thanks to improved maize seeds, fertilizer, mechanization and conservation farming techniques.
The 2015 Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®) identifies strategies, policies and partnerships that can help Zambia achieve its agricultural, food security and nutrition goals. In February 2016, Ann Steensland, Deputy Director of Global Harvest Initiative (GHI) and GHI Steering Committee Member, Kelly Winquist of John Deere, traveled to Lusaka, Zambia, to present the findings of the 2015 GAP Report® to an audience of policymakers, industry and non-profit leaders, farmers, and academics.
The event included remarks by the Zambia Ministers of Gender and Agriculture who spoke about the importance of increasing agricultural productivity in a way that conserves natural resources, helps farmers adapt to climate change, and improves the livelihoods and nutrition of farmers and consumers.
“The majority of women depend on agriculture – if we want to empower them we have to invest in agriculture and value chains,” said Professor Nkandu Luo, Zambia Minister of Gender.
The Honorable Given Lubinda, Zambia Minister of Agriculture, echoed the GAP Report® when he said, “It has taken the world so long to realize that the new breadbasket of the world is Zambia.”
Minister Lubinda also acknowledged the challenges posed by climate change, poverty and malnutrition. “There is increased pressure on the land that we are using to produce our food. We need to produce more with less. The middle income population is growing, [nonetheless] it is extremely painful that the producers of food are themselves malnourished.”
Prabdeep Bajwa, regional director Africa for DuPont Pioneer, spoke about the company’s commitment to collaborating to address the challenges which substantially impact the productivity of smallholder farmers in Zambia. “DuPont Pioneer will address these challenges by giving farmers access to training, resources, technology and to markets, enabling them to boost their yields to improve their livelihoods.”
Musika Managing Director, Reuben Banda, said that farmers in Zambia will get access to productivity enhancing technologies, coupled with practical technical advice in the correct usage of the seed and associated inputs, leading to higher yields and contributing to poverty reduction.
Subsequent to the remarks by the government ministers and the ZAMSAP partners, Winquist with John Deere, presented the main recommendations and findings of the 2015 GAP Report®, and Steensland moderated a panel discussion featuring case studies from Report. Serving on the panel were:
Abla Benhammouch, Country Director for the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) presenting the Smallholder Livestock Investment Project, a collaboration with the Zambia Ministry of Agriculture to increase livestock vaccinations and education for smallholders;
The panelists discussed their specific programs, the problem they are seeking to address and their results to date. They also identified public sector investments and partnerships that are needed to continue their progress: increasing rural access to the banking system finance, improving the road, water and electricity infrastructures, and increasing investments in agricultural research and extension.