“Which seed company sells the best seeds for this region ? What is the best insecticide to manage the armyworm infestation in my field ? Who is supplying the most durable agricultural machinery at affordable prices in our country ? Does the Ministry of Agriculture have any programme that supports farmers in potato growing and market gardening ? Is there any institution that can train my cooperative on how to handle a farming enterprise as a business ?”

These are some of the questions of the more than 1.4 million emergent and smallholder Zambian farmers.

To answer such challenging questions, the Zambian - German Agricultural Knowledge and Training Centre (AKTC) in collaboration with its cooperating partner, the Golden Valley Agricultural Research Trust (GART) hosted the first ever combined field day and seed fair under the theme “Promotion of climate smart agriculture for improved crop productivity and income”.

The event took place on the 1st of November 2018, at GART-Chaloshi Farm in Chisamba, and was organised with the combined efforts of the event’s committee comprising personnel from the participating institutions : the Agricultural Knowledge and Training Centre (AKTC), the Golden Valley Agricultural Research Trust (GART), the Conservation Farming Unit (CFU), the Zambia Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI), and the Seed Control and Certification Institute (SCCI).

The Zambia’s Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Michael Katambo, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Julius Shawa, and the Central Province Provincial Minister, Hon. Sydney Mushanga were gracing the event. Other special guests attending the event included a delegation from the German Embassy Zambia’s Central Province, the Provincial Permanent Secretary, two District Commissioners (DC) for Chibombo and Chisamba Districts, and many more other senior government officials.

A total of 18 exhibiting companies were present at this year’s field day and seed fair, exhibiting different products and services ranging from agricultural machinery, agro chemicals, seed varieties and fertilizers to over 1,000 attendees, most of them coming from Central, Lusaka, Southern and Northern Provinces of Zambia.

Among the exhibiting companies that participated in the event, four were AKTC private sector partners, including Bayer AG, BHBW, Grimme and KSB-pumps. The event provided a platform for these companies to showcase their products and services to the general public.

Moreover, AKTC lined up a number of activities for the day, such as a tour for farmers, students and lecturer’s to the solar photovoltaic system and the AKTC trainee accommodation. Students from the University of Zambia (UNZA) agriculture and their lecturers participated to a “GPS use in Agriculture” training conducted by an AKTC expert. At the AKTC stand, free handouts on “soya beans growing process” were provided, as a way of helping farmers to increase their crop productivity for the next farming season. Furthermore, farmers who visited the AKTC stand were introduced to the various short course programmes offered for trainings at AKTC.

Additionally, a demonstration to determine the effects of climate smart agriculture was carried out in the AKTC 10 hectare pivot by the AKTC crop production expert, Mr. Leslie De Jager. Half of this field was planted in a conventional way, in which the crop residue was burnt and followed by land preparation using a disc harrow and soya beans planting. On the other half of the field, soya bean seed was planted directly into the crop residue without burning or disking the land. In the long-term, AKTC will be able to show from the results of this and other trials how climate smart agriculture can be achieved with simple methods and how soil fertility and water holding capacity can be improved.

While AKTC was leading the activities of the field day, GART on the other hand was responsible for the activities of the seed fair. A number of seed companies as well as the CFU, ZARI, SCCI and GART itself showcased their products and services. The major seed varieties that were exhibited included maize, soya beans and groundnut seeds, which are also the major crops grown by Zambian farmers.

The 2018 AKTC / GART field day attracted more than 1,000 visitors and received positive feedback from participants and exhibiting companies. As AKTC, we are grateful to our sponsors for this combined field day and seed fair. Further, we hope that this year’s field day and seed fair was a platform that benefited to both the exhibitors and the famers as they could ask questions, exchange knowledge and see new technologies in the agricultural sector.

For further information please visit the AKTC website (www.aktczambia.com) or contact our team leader, Mr. Helmut Anschuetz ().