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‘Smallholder access to seed variety poor’ – Julius Shawa

More than 1 million smallholder Zambians still battle to get improved seed varieties. This according to Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary Julius Shawa, who said it is hindering productivity in the agriculture sector.

Shawa also cited weak organisational structures, low investment and poor knowledge management as additional barriers to improving productivity of smallholder producers. “Farmers are still unable to access improved seed varieties despite the developments of improved generations,” said Shawa.

This year, more than 1.6 million smallholder farmers are to benefit from a comprehensive e-voucher system. The system will cover more than 10 crops in addition to existing ones, to encourage diversification. Shaw urged the Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI), Seed Control and Certification Institute (SCCI) and other partners to help farmers access seed.

On farmers’ vulnerability, largely linked to climatic changes, Shawa called for improved methods and technology like improved seed varieties, irrigation, storage systems, land and water use. “Undertaking intensive work to consolidate the resilience of smallholder farmers is of greater importance,” he said.

The risk profile of smallholder farmers is evolving, with new factors influenced by climate change becoming more prominent.

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