Climate change includes high temperatures and droughts which has drastically affected farming and survival as a whole. PAM mitigates the effects of Climate change through the promotion of the production of Climate-resilient crops in affected areas. This also includes knowledge transfer, the introduction of new farming techniques
FAO – CASSAVA NURSERIES ESTABLISHMENT PROJECT FOR SOUTHERN PROVINCE
(November 2003 – October 2004)
Implemented in just under one year in three districts of the Southern Province of Zambia namely; Siavonga, Sinazongwe, and Kalomo, this particular Norwegian funded, FAO Programme Against Malnutrition (PAM) project aimed at promoting crop diversification through the addition of cassava in the farmers’ cropping system.
The Cassava Nurseries Establishment Project targeted to recruit thirteen (13) Farmers to establish seven (7) Hectares of Cassava nursery fields in the project catchment area. Its three major execution components were:
- Nursery Establishment
- Planting of Nurseries
- And Farmer Training
As a leading agro-based Non-Governmental-Organization, PAM already had its presence in Siavonga through the Small Holder Access to Processing Extension and Seeds (SHAPES) Project.
SHAPES was involved in Cassava seed multiplication. It, therefore, became logical to locally source the Cassava cuttings for Siavonga. A single Cassava Seed Multiplication Farmer under the SHAPES supplied the planting materials – a clear optimization of PAM’s projects’ positive effects.
For Kalomo and Sinazongwe, the cuttings were procured from Mansa Research Station in Luapula, one of the provinces in the northern region of the country (Zambia) and successfully distributed.
In the tightness of the project implementation time frame, PAM managed to score some notable successes using the farm-to-fork approach.
Despite making a potentially costly but justifiable assumption on the technical capacities of Zambia’s Ministry of Agriculture collaborating Extension Officers as regards Cassava Production, the organization successfully redeemed the situation by engaging with the Seed Certification and Control Institute (SCCI) accordingly.
Given the short-term nature of the project, the genuinely helpful thing by SCCI was to train the Extension Officers and the farmers at the same time as the former were not as capable to train the latter as was earlier presumed by PAM.
For the effective implementation and intended project success, critical training such as Cassava Production was ear-marked to precede the distribution of the cuttings and actual planting. Conventional procedure in farming was not followed in view of the fact that the rainy season had already begun. Farmers were as such unable to take chances with the scanty rains amidst worrying climatic uncertainties and PAM also shuddered at the thought of recording a total crop failure due to the late establishment of Cassava nurseries.
Against all odds, the project saw an 84% success rate on the planted hectares. Furthermore, the utilization and value addition training whetted the beneficiaries’ appetite for Cassava and almost instantaneously triggered an interest in adopting it as a staple rather than a mere snack.
The Cassava processing and utilization training also covered the making of other value-added products like bread, cakes, and fritters. The interest in increasing Cassava field cultivated areas naturally grew among in view of enlightenment about the Nutritional and Economic importance of the root tuber in question.
High profile visits were made to the project shortly after inception and despite the obvious concern about establishing the nurseries before training the most important stakeholders – farmers, the FAO Relief Coordinator was thrilled by the farmers’ enthusiastic posture and encouraged the project to capitalize on that.
The targeted number of hectares to be established was seven (7). Despite the timely camp and farmer selection, the project suffered some setback due to some natural calamities in Siavonga – the cessation of the rains shortly after planting the cassava cuttings.Overall the project yielded results good enough to justify an extension.