Sustainable Intensification of Smallholder Farming Systems in Zambia (SIFAZ)

A European Union funded project has up scaled on-farm trails where adaptive research is carried out to ensure farmers register increased harvest in five provinces of Zambia.

National Project Coordinator for the Sustainable Intensification of Smallholder Farming Systems (SIFAZ) project in Zambia Geoffrey Siulemba said this when he toured various agricultural interventions undertaken by the project in Mazabuka, Monze, and Choma districts.

Mr. Siulemba said the diverse sustainable intension practices will see yields and incomes of the farmers increasing.

He said SIFAZ project has successfully initiated activities aimed at enhancing the uptake of Sustainable Intensification Practices in the agriculture sector to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Mr. Siulemba said the project has established on-farm trails where adaptive research is carried-out to ensure enhanced farmer participation in various interventions aimed at promoting increased crop production on a small parcel of land.

He asserted that farmers have to adopt some of the technologies that are implemented on-farm if they are to improve their production and productivity.

Mr. Siulemba said there is no control on how climate change would be in a particular season but farmers should adopt technologies that can address shocks in the agriculture sector in the face of climate change.

And Southern Province Agricultural Coordinator Dr. Max Choombe said farmers should choose from the diverse interventions and practices to improve on their harvest.

Dr. Choombe said from the diverse innovations done by research, on-farm should encourage farmers to adopt those they can manage to increase crop production, nutrition and income.

He stressed that crop diversification, smart agriculture, weeding, use of cover crops, is imperative for farmers to choose for themselves what can work well.

“Selected beneficiary farmers have established technology demonstration plots to promote recommended technologies packages that are in four categories namely; improved crop intensification,” he said.

Others are soil health management and improvement, weed control and management, and mechanisation of husbandry practices.

Dr. Choombe said the technologies being implemented on farm are for farmers so that they are profitable in doing their agriculture.

Meanwhile, Research Associate under the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) Kelvin Kalala noted that the weather pattern has become unpredictable hence need for farmers to adopt the research innovations.

“It is very important to see the involvement of farmers in research because it is a specialized entity but we have seen that farmers have taken part and they themselves are taking part to research the various technologies we are promoting,” he said.

Mr. Kalala noted that farmers have taken interest in certain technologies and have since started to take part in technologies that they are interested in.

He reviewed that farmers have emphasised on issues of ripping, land till practices and leaving crop residuals in the field to improve on soil fertility.

Mr. Kalala said farmers have also observed that in fields that were ripped the crop is not very much stressed when there is a dry spell compared to conventional farming using a plough.

“The technologies we are investigating in has various plots with common practices which involve the norm of how farmers cultivate their crops by tilling. Doing research with farmers has given them the opportunity to understand and investigate so that at the end of day, they are able to make an ideal decision on which technology is better for them,” he clarified.

The Four and a half years project is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Ministry of Agriculture and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT).

The project is operating in 5 Provinces and 27 districts in Zambia.