Zambian Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya has called for intensified efforts to develop drought resistant crops, besides maize – to mitigate the effects of climate change on national food security.
“There is a need to intensify research in alternative crops like cassava, so that it can be planted on a large scale to feed the nation in times of poor rain due to climate change,” Siliya said when she toured the Seed Control and Certification Institute (SCCI) and Zambia Agricultural Institute (ZARI) in Chilanga, Lusaka province.
The SCCI has 65 000 hectares under seed crop production and 90% of this has maize seed. She said it is critical for poor and vulnerable groups to have access to alternative crops, as they are more likely to be affected by climate change.
“Access to alternative crops by vulnerable groups is a central aspect in achieving food security and enhancing resilience,” she said.
On promotion of climate smart agriculture, Siliya said it should be aimed at reducing the exposure of small-scale farmers to short-term risks, while building their capacity to prosper in the face of shocks and long-term stresses.
SCCI Director Marble Simwanza said her organisation has increased the monitoring of seed dealers to ensure that genuine seed is sold.
She said the SCCI is working with small-scale farmers in dry-prone areas to enhance research and increase crop production.