September 7, 2012 – LUSAKA, Zambia, and MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala., USA – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) recently awarded the Production, Finance and Improved Technology Plus (PROFIT+) project in Zambia to ACDI/VOCA. PROFIT+ is part of the Feed the Future (FtF) global hunger and food security initiative. The project aims to help smallholder farmers to increase productivity and have better access to markets.
Zambia is located in southern Africa, with a favorable environment for agriculture. However the economy has historically been based on the copper mining industry that has been through several boom and bust cycles and, although doing well at present, the government is pursuing an economic diversification program that has a strong emphasis on agriculture.
IFDC is part of a consortium of partners that will assist ACDI/VOCA. IFDC will help improve crop productivity of selected commodities and develop commercial agricultural input (agro-input) markets. Other collaborating partners include: Associates for International Resources and Development, Catholic Relief Services, Crown Agents USA, Danya International and Kimetrica.
During the early stages of the project, IFDC will assist in developing the specific and practical activities that will introduce integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) to smallholder farmers participating in the maize-based farming systems in Zambia’s Eastern Province and horticulture value chains around the capital city of Lusaka. This will involve demonstrating a range of improved technologies and supporting the development of sustainable input supply systems that can meet increased farmer demand stimulated by innovative demonstrations.
ISFM combines mineral fertilizers and locally available organic amendments (crop residues, compost and green manure) and is effective at improving the efficiency of fertilizers and enhancing the performance of other agro-inputs including quality seeds of superior varieties. In addition, ISFM promotes improved crop management practices, measures to control erosion and leaching and techniques to improve soil organic matter maintenance.
A value chain links the steps a product takes from farmer to consumer. It includes research and development, agro-input suppliers and finance. The farmer combines these resources with land, labor and capital to produce commodities.
According to Richard Jones, IFDC agribusiness program leader, “Zambia’s Eastern Province is a high potential area where the informed use of purchased inputs can more than double crop productivity, but we need to give attention to helping farmers use agro-inputs on crops that can be profitably marketed. Diversification of the maize-based system with legumes such as groundnuts, pigeon peas and soybeans offers real opportunities because the local, regional and international demand for these crops is well established.”
IFDC will conduct an in-depth examination of the seed and fertilizer situation for each segment of the value chain. Specific activities will include:
- Assessment of seed and fertilizer producers, input suppliers, agro-dealers and cooperatives.
- Identification of bottlenecks in input (seed and fertilizer) production, importation and distribution.
- Assessment and identification of soil fertility issues through participatory field appraisals and soil testing with farmers and extension agents.
- Identification of proven strategies to arrest and reverse soil fertility loss.
- Design of agro-dealer training and accreditation program to professionalize the agro-dealer sector, with a special emphasis on enabling the development of women agro-dealers.
PROFIT+ expects to achieve a 30 percent increase in productivity and income from selected value chains, benefit 200,000 smallholder farmers and increase the value of agricultural sales by $125 million, particularly for value-added processing. The project will build local capacity for sustainable results. Plans are that Zambian nationals will take complete ownership of the project during the third year.
ACDI/VOCA is a private, nonprofit economic development organization that promotes broad-based economic growth, higher living standards and vibrant communities in low-income countries and emerging democracies. Based in Washington, D.C., ACDI/VOCA has worked in 145 countries since 1963. Its practice areas are agribusiness, food security, enterprise development, financial services and community development.
IFDC, headquartered in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, USA, is a public international organization, governed by an international board of directors with representation from developed and developing countries. The nonprofit Center, with over 700 employees in more than 35 countries in Africa and Eurasia, is supported by various bilateral and multilateral aid agencies, private foundations and national governments.
IFDC focuses on increasing and sustaining food security and agricultural productivity in developing countries through the development and transfer of effective and environmentally sound crop nutrient technology and agribusiness expertise.
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