GOVERNMENT has hailed partners working with Sustainable Intensification for Smallholder Farming Systems in Zambia (SIFAZ) for establishment of Technology Demonstration Transfers (TDFs) in Chikoka Agriculture Camp in Vubwi district in Eastern province.

“I wish to commend (SIFAZ) a European Union  funded project and implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organisations of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with CIMMITY through the MoA for partnering with SEED Companies, Agro Chemical Suppliers. Financial Institutions and Equipment for your agriculture activities aimed at increasing production and productivity,” Vubwi District Agriculture Coordinator Philimon Lungu said.

Mr Lungu said field days are important because they bring together farmers, stakeholders and Agriculture Extension Officers to share experiences on modern agriculture practices.

“We are gathered here to witness the performance of several modern sustainable agricultural practices aimed at increasing the agriculture production,” Mr Lungu said.

He added that SIFAZ practices under promotion have the potential to increase the farm produce while improving and maintaining the soil fertility thereby improving people’s livelihoods amidst climate change.

Mr Lungu further reminded the Chikoka Agricultural farming community during the field day to ensure household Food and Nutrition Security by keeping enough crop produce to take them through to the next harvest.

He thanked President Hakainde Hichilema for promoting the use of modern agriculture practices through the of sustainable intensification technologies promoted by SIFAZ.

Speaking at the same field day, Eastern Sales Region Agronomist with AFRISEED Mafwo Kamangula noted with concern that the Mega demonstration plots were established later alluding the scenario to various factors.

Mr Kamangula was however to mention that the outcome of the mega demonstration was still a learning point for farmers to draw lessons where applicable.

He further marketed the AFRISED seed saying the products were drought tolerant, double cobbling and high yielding suited for farmers in any varying weather pattern.

“Our Seeds are drought tolerant, double cobbling and high yielding” said Kamangula.

Mr Kamangula assured farmers that AFRISED was at their disposal to offer certified seed in timely services and conveniently at their door step through contractual farming.

He encouraged farmers to take of advantage of Village Bank Savings services as well to engage AFRISEED to offer such services during the sharing of the funds.

Mr Kamangula said such services were beneficial to the farmers in the sense that farmer collect the inputs easily.

“Here you do Village banking not so question Kamangula as engaged the farmers on the possibility of making use of the facility” he said.

At the same event, Margret Longwe from AgriFocus expressed disappointment that farmers were not making economic sense of the pesticides because of limited knowledge on usage and application of chemicals resulting in denouncing the products.

Ms Longwe said, “Pesticides are classified into pre-emergent and emergent ones and are tailored to the specific crop physiological makeup and as such failure by the farmers to follow instructions was leading to such misfortunes.”

She encouraged farmers in the area to develop the habit of reading the instructions on the label of the pesticide container before attempting to use it.

“A customer is supported by Law to return the product after purchase if they are not happy with it so long the materials are not tempered with it,” Ms Longwe said.

She advised farmers to engage other family members where understanding of the information on the label was concerned, as this will help lessen the misunderstandings related to chemical handling.

“I have heard a lot of complaints on several occasions that pesticides are not effective compared to manual weeding, this is not true, the problem is limited knowledge on chemical handling,” Ms Longwe challenged the farmers.

She advised the farmers to get expert information where possible in order to avoid unnecessary loses gave out her number for further consultation needy may arise and further urged them to make use of the contact details in the right way and at the right time.

“Follow instructions on the label and do not over dilute the chemicals to come with a lot of stuff that will not even serve its purpose,” she said.

She warned farmers against the habit of purchasing cheaper and wrong chemicals because that was a recipe for failure on the part of the expected produce.

Emily Mbewe, a Lead Farmer and also a host farmer during the same event in Chikoka Agriculture Camp urged other farmers to adopt the SIFAZ promoted technologies as they are usage friendly and increase production and productivity alongside improving the soil fertility.

These technologies also lessen the burden of hiring extra land for production because of the multipurpose utilisation of the land under cultivation.

Ms Mbewe added that with SIFAZ technologies, a farmer is able to harvest more than crop from one field citing a Crop intensification field where three crops consisting of a cereal crop(maize), Legume (Soybeans) and an improved fallow crop such as Glicidia or pigeon pea are intercropped in one field resulting in harvesting of yields in one and ultimately increasing Food and Nutritional security in the community.

She advised other farmers to make use of the cutting of the improved fallows species for firewood as well.

Ms Mbewe also stated that the use of the rip lines in the modern agriculture technologies under promotion by SIFAZ have proved to be very successful were water harvesting retaining is concerned in the advert of climate change.

“You see moisture in rip line even after a dry spill, an indication that water was preserved in the rip lines in the field for crop production purpose,” she said.

Chikoka Agricultural Camp SIFAZ sponsored Camp celebrated its Field day under the theme “Inclusive Economic transformation.” –NAIS