Zambian smallholder farmers might soon have better access to high-quality, disease-free horticultural seedlings easier after a seed company – Syngenta – partnered with a powerful USAID-funded programme and a US consulting company, to build a sustainable distribution programme for hybrid seedlings.
The programme will also aim to provide farmers with access to market information and linkages, to train farmers on good agricultural practices and business management, and to introduce new technologies to help smallholder farmers dramatically improve their yields.
The USAID funded programme is called Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation and the consulting company is Fintrac, a women-owned American company, working to find agricultural solutions to hunger and poverty.
In practice MRI Syngenta will establish 20 seedling production sites in 20 districts across Zambia, each owned and operated by a young farmer, or what they call an Entrepreneurial Young Plant Raiser (YPR). The YPR will provide business and technical training, as well as facilitate market linkages for the benefit of 12,000 smallholder farmers.
Although the primary focus of the project will be on tomato and cabbage seedlings, Syngenta will also conduct trials and testing regarding the commercial viability of other crops with a high potential in Zambia such as kale (rape), cauliflower, broccoli, carrot, and potato.
Furthermore, Syngenta will help in promoting a pilot programme for the “vegetable in a bag” concept, where a small portion of YPR seedlings will be sold in reusable packaging, with no ground soil and minimal water, making them suitable for urban and peri-urban use.
“For Syngenta, smallholder farmers around the world and in Zambia are key to solving the growing gap between the supply and demand for affordable food. Our partnership with USAID focuses on testing the commercial viability of innovative business models designed to enable smallholder farmers in Zambia to increase their output and thus their profitability whilst using sustainable and safe agricultural practices. This is what Syngenta’s Good Growth Plan is ultimately all about,” said Mark Stokes, Head of Customer Marketing for Syngenta in Zambia.