Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Farmers key in economic development - AATF
By Prince Chibawah in Mansa
Thu 20 June 2013, 14:00 CAT

THE African Agriculture Technology Foundation says farmers are key in the sustainability of economic development.

AATF is an independent, non-profit organisation committed to delivering agriculture innovations to Africa's challenged but resilient farmers through public private partnerships.

AATF business development manager George Marechera disclosed that one of the constraints to cassava production in Zambia was lack of appropriate machinery.

He said it was hard to develop cassava production due to challenges of machinery for planting, harvesting and processing.

Marechera was speaking after the cassava promotion joint field day themed 'Improving cassava productivity for increased household income' at Nsonga Agriculture Camp.

He said AATF was currently brokering access to cassava mechanisation and agro-processing equipment to facilitate African-based development of the equipment and use by farmers to accelerate harvesting and processing.

He disclosed that the cassava mechanisation pilot projects was currently being implemented in Zambia and Nigeria.

Marechera said that in Zambia, the project was being implemented in Mansa, Samfya and Kaoma.

"The project has the potential to reach over one million farmers and their families, increase yields from the current average of nine tonnes/ha to 25 tonnes/ha, and increasing in labour productivity," Marechera said.

And handing over the machinery to farmers in the area, Marechera said the machinery would ease planting and harvesting process.

He said it took one farmer about one hundred and fifty hours to plant cassava in one hectare while the farmer would likely spend only two hours if he was using the planting and harvesting equipment.

"We want our small-scale farmers to realise that cassava farming is a good business. So we shall keep on providing them with necessary support to enable them expand their production," he said.

Marechera said that AATF would also support farmers in marketing cassava.

And Luapula Province acting agriculture planner Dominic Namanyungu said the government attached great importance to the improvement of cassava production in the country.

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