With the falling maize prices, many farmers are forced to look at other avenues of arable crop production. This has made the Agricultural diversification agenda a top priority for both policy makers and farmers themselves. Some of the key identified reasons linked to crop diversification include: increase in crop productivity, increase in market opportunities, an improved crop rotation and provision of resilience to climate change.
Indeed, crop diversification is key in promoting sustainable food security in Zambia’s diverse communities as well as in outside communities through exportation.
The BMEL financed Zambian-German Agricultural Knowledge and Training Centre (AKTC) is one of the bodies that are in full support of this idea. In this year’s training agenda, the AKTC included topics such as Vegetable Production, Potato Production and Soya Beans Production as a way of promoting sustainable crop diversification among the emergent farmers of Zambia.
On the 13th of September 2018, AKTC organized a Soya Bean Production Indaba which was attended by 83 emergent famers from across Zambia. Among this number, 22 were female farmers. The map indicates from where the participants came from in order to attend the soya training at AKTC. Some came as far as from Chipata, which is 629km from AKTC or Chililabombwe close to the border of DRC, which is 375km from AKTC. Farmers from 5 (out of 10) provinces attended the training, which indicates, that AKTC is now well-known all-over Zambia and that the practical training offered by the Centre is in great demand and well accepted.
The training, which was conducted at AKTC in Chisamba was complemented by other stakeholders in the Agriculture sector. Such as Bayer Crop Science, a global player in regards to agro-chemicals and one of the private sector partners of AKTC, as well as SeedCo, one of the leading seed producers in the country.
The Business Manager for Bayer Zambia gave a presentation on the plant protection application programme for the soya bean crop as well as some crop management tips and closed with a motivational talk about the potential that lies in the agricultural sector in Zambia.
SeedCo (one of the leading seed companies in Zambia) focused its presentation on the soya bean seed varieties. This was a detailed presentation where farmers were taught on the potentials of each seed variety and its behavior to different climate conditions.
AKTC’s crop production expert gave a practical presentation on land preparation for a soya bean field, how to do germination tests, seed treatment (inoculation of the seed before planting) and recommendations on row and seed spacing. He also explained the specific nutrient requirements of soya beans.
The training created a platform for the exchange of knowledge between experts and farmers and among the farmers themselves. Speaking to one of the participants after the training, he stated that for him, this indaba was a great opportunity to improve his soya bean production in this year’s farming season. “With the new knowledge and skills I have obtained from AKTC, beginning this farming season, I shall be able to buy the right seed variety that match with the climate conditions for my area and also employ the seed germination test before planting my soya beans. By doing so, I shall be able to know how much seed to plant for me to get a 100% germination rate”. Because of such skills, he was hopeful to increase his hectares from 20ha to 30ha for soya bean production in this year’s farming season.