The Zambian government has partnered with the Agricultural Productivity Programme for Southern Africa (APPSA) to promote new rice varieties to increase productivity and improve the nation’s food security.
The rice varieties being piloted require less water compared to the existing varieties, mature quickly and offer high yields.
The pilot project targets smallholder farmers that are being trained to grow the new varieties through the Ministry of Agriculture working with APPSA. The programme is funded by a World Bank loan of US$30 000.
“So far, we have trained a number of seed growers and we are working with more than 300 farmers per district in the districts under pilot,” said Senior Agriculture Research Officer Sonwell Mwingalu.
Mwingalu said while traditionally, Zambian rice is grown in rain-fed lowlands and on flood-prone land, the new varieties can be grown higher, making increased production possible.
According to the Zambia National Rice Development strategy, the crop is increasingly becoming a cereal of choice for the growing urban population. Over the last 2 decades, most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Zambia included, have become net importers of rice.