Zambia has great potential to become a breadbasket for the sub-region, owing to its vast fertile land and abundant water resources. However, of the 58 percent of the land suitable for agricultural production, only 14 percent is currently under cultivation. Small-scale farm production in the country is often not sufficient to meet household-level nutritional needs, nor is it sufficient to produce a surplus that can be sold in local or other markets. Moreover, even in some circumstances where small-scale farmers produce surplus crops for sell, they find it difficult to market their produce.
The causes for such situations are multifaceted. Firstly, there is under-utilization of low-cost irrigation systems among small-scale farmers to increase food production due to poor income and ignorance. In addition, farmers do not have the capacity to engage in improved farming methods in order to increase their yield per unit area. Furthermore, farmers have problems in marketing their produce due to poor market linkages.
Thus, DAPP implements Farmers’ Club Programme to harness the great agricultural potential Zambia has through capacity building and provision of resources to farmers to engage in sustainable crop and animal production and subsequently improve food security and income for the small-scale farmers and their families.
DAPP Zambia has implemented a number of projects under the Farmers Club Programme across all Zambian provinces. Currently, we are running two major Farmers Club projects, as outlined below;
i)Scaling out Integrated Soil Fertility Management Technologies project
The project Scaling out Integrated Soil Fertility Management Technologies in Petauke, Katete and Chipata districts of Eastern province aims at contributing to increased and sustained agricultural productivity, food and income security of 20,000 smallholder farmers through dissemination and scaling out the uptake of improved and proven integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) practices using a value-chain approach linking ISFM with better access to markets and credit.
The project works towards increasing smallholder farmers’ awareness of ISFM technologies, strengthening the capacity of public and private partners to transfer ISFM research outputs to farmers and to increase smallholder farmers’ access to farm inputs and output market
The project is reaching 20,000 smallholder farmers with awareness of ISFM practices with a target of 100% being aware of the IFSM practice, resulting in at least 30% increase in agricultural productivity. At least 70% of the targeted beneficiaries using one technology on of the ISFM technologies by the end of three years project lifetime.
ii)Rural resilience initiative
The Rural Resilience Initiative uses the Farmers’ Clubs program to respond to climate change and other factors enhancing food insecurity. The Farmers’ Club project aims to improve living conditions for rural families through increased and diversified production and improved marketing. The way is to empower the small scale farmer by offering the farmer access to an organized Club Life including training sessions, model farming, field visits, low cost technical solutions, technical assistance, exchange of collectively gained experiences, links to micro finance and markets and overall support that the Farmer’s Club project provides for the farmers active in the Club.
The yields of farmers in Pemba are low and the increasing frequency of climatic shocks is overwhelming beyond their coping capacities. Therefore, the Rural Resilience Initiative (R4), is a risk management intervention which aims to increase the resilience of small scale farmers to climatic shocks through a combination of four risk management strategies, namely:
R1- Disaster Risk Reduction and Safety Nets,
R2 - Risk Transfer (Insurance),
R3- Prudent Risk Taking (Credit) and
R4- Risk Reserves (Savings).
The R4 harmonizes these four risk management strategies which aim to reduce household vulnerability and food insecurity caused and intensified by climate change and associated hazards.
The project has developed systems that will enable vulnerable and food insecure rural populations in the region overcome climate risks through community oriented risk management and focused market-based approaches. The agricultural production of these small scale farmers is dependent on rainfall. Therefore, R4 project will increase the resilience of small holder farmers to climatic shocks through a combination of four risk management strategies.
The three year initiative is part of the global Rural Resilience Initiative which was launched in 2012 and is presently working with over 22,000 rural farmers in two other African countries namely; Ethiopia and Senegal. Following its success in the mentioned countries, the project was scaled up to Zambia and Malawi in 2014 and DAPP Zambia’s Farmers Club model was identified and is being used as a coordination and learning platform for the rural farmers in Kanchomba south farming block. Initially, 500 small scale farmers were trained as a pilot, following its success the initiative will be scaled up to reach 2,700 rural farmers in the year 2016. Ms. Ertharin Cousin, the World Food Program Executive Director and other officials from WFP, visited the Farmers Club Project in Pemba district, Southern Province on 16 January, 2016.
The project has embarked on mobilizing farmers to improve crop production through diversification and soil management, improved financial literacy among Farmers’ Clubs’ members including creating linkages to finance and insurance services, starting of saving clubs and create market linkages. Farmers can access weather index insurance by paying with their labor through Insurance-for-Assets (IFA) schemes; when the farmers implement conservation agriculture practices the project rewards them by paying their insurance. When a drought hits, compensation for weather-related losses prevents farmers from selling productive assets and stimulates faster recovery.