Benchmarking of APPSA Activities by SADC Member States
The Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) has been coordinating the implementation of the Agricultural Productivity Programme for Southern Africa (APPSA) in Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.
In order for Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) member states’ to appreciate the developments that have taken place in the above mentioned countries, CCARDESA facilitated a visit to Zambia of eight delegates from Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and the Kingdom of Eswatini.
This undertaking was in view of the fact that implementation activities for APPSA Phase I, which involved only three SADC countries are nearing completion, and CCARDESA is pursuing the expansion of the programme to new countries.
During the visit, the APPSA Zambia National Coordinator, Dr Dickson Ng’uni, explained that the purpose of the visit was to provide opportunity for the country representatives to benchmark and interrogate activities implemented by APPSA in Zambia, in order to leverage on Zambia’s experience in their consideration of joining the APPSA programme.
Dr. Ng’uni expressed gratitude to the representatives from the 5 countries for choosing Zambia to be an example and learning experience for convincing respective governments to join APPSA in uplifting the standards of agricultural research in order to enhance production and productivity among small scale famers in the sub-region.
“The mission of the delegates was to acquaint themselves with the activities of APPSA as there is likelihood for their countries to join the APPSA project and the visiting countries are expected to be brought on board. Therefore, they need to meaningfully understand the activities of APPSA,” he added.
The participants undertook a tour of various facilities rehabilitated and built during the tenure of APPSA implementation in Zambia at Mount Makulu and Kabwe research stations.
Among the facilities toured by the delegates were the newly-rehabilitated Soil Chemistry and Fertiliser testing laboratories, the station conference hall currently under construction, the National Plant Genetic Resources Centre (NPGRC) and the newly-constructed water reservoir.
The benchmarking visit was quite interactive and was fulfilling to both Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI) and the visiting delegates.
The Head of Crop Production, under the Department of Agricultural Extension Services in Zimbabwe, Ms Rutendo Nhongonlema, encouraged researchers at ZARI to fully utilize the water reservoirs which were constructed at Mount Makulu and Kabwe Research Stations.
Ms. Nhongonlema stated that with climate variability, it was prudent that APPSA Zambia constructed reservoirs adding that research activities were expected to be continuous in order to give the farmers applicable and up to date information.
“Improving agricultural production and productivity should be coupled with investment in water management,” she emphasized.
And Director of Agricultural Research from Botswana, Dr Pharoah Mosupi, was impressed by the farmer participatory approach used by APPSA Zambia when developing the improved crop varieties.
Dr. Mosupi echoed that developing a variety while considering farmers needs was a crucial step towards enhancing adoption.
The Director of Agriculture from Eswatini appreciated CCARDESA for facilitating the benchmarking visit and went on to say “we were truly motivated and we promise to convince our Principals into considering that we also join the APPSA family having witnessed the benefits of being part of this development effort”.