—The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has embarked on a research and sensitization of farmers on farming technologies which will enable them improve availability and access to nutritious and healthy foods by planting varieties which are tolerant and resistant to major disease threat.
USAID has launched a programme with local partners known as Zambia Feed the Future Research and Development Program, which is aimed at promoting bio-fortified crops such as orange maize and orange sweet potatoes, afro toxin mitigation and bio-control technology in maize and ground nuts.
During a conducted tour at Katete Harvest Plus, Demand Creation Specialist, Emely Banda said the orange maize will this year be offloaded on the market.
Mrs Banda said Harvest Plus has already offloaded three verities on the market to enable farmers access the grain.
She stated that GV 662, GV 664, and GV 665 have already been released to seed companies namely Seedco, Zamseed and Kamano to sell to farmers that wish to engage in farming of orange maize.
“We know that we like eating white nhsima but it is important to encourage communities to consume orange maize because of its component of Vitamin A which is essential to our bodies,” she added.
And Dama Banda, a farmer in Chief Kawaza’s area in Katete district who owns a cassava demonstration plot, said there is need to release cassava cuttings to many farmers in the area.
Mr Banda stated that people in the area are admiring his plot which has done very well despite the area not receiving enough rainfall.
He stated that once the early maturing cassava cuttings are made available to the farmers in the area, farmers will not starve in case the other crops like maize failing due to drought.
And another farmer, Edward Mvula, of Chief Mbangombe’s area, stated that there is need for the government and cooperating partners to assist farmers with a ready market.
Mr Mvula stated that currently for one to sell cassava he has to be mobile to attract customers, adding that only a few make nshima out of it.
The implementing partners include International Institute of tropical Agriculture, (IITA), International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), International Centre for maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT).
Others are International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Harvest Plus and Zambia Agriculture Research Institute.