To bring together farmers with seed distributors and other stakeholders, the Southern Africa Accelerated Innovation Delivery Initiative (AID-I) Rapid Delivery Hub, or MasAgro Africa, held a seed fair with the theme ‘Promoting Access to Drought Tolerant Seed and Appropriate Scale Technologies,’ in Zambia’s Chongwe district. The objectives of the fair were to create a platform for farmers and input suppliers to engage before the onset of the planting season. Over 1,200 farmers attended the seed fair.
“The seed fair plays a critical role in linking farmers to seed companies and exposes them to appropriate technologies. The links created with agro-dealers and other suppliers ensure farmers gain access to sufficient volumes of appropriate multiple stress tolerant maize hybrids, legume seed and agricultural inputs locally. Access to drought tolerant seed and technology in the times of climate change is timely and critical to today’s farmers. This fair will help our farmers acquire inputs at their doorsteps, promoting food security,” said Kasuba, the district agriculture officer.
AID-I is also using these fairs to provide information on agronomic practices such as conservation agriculture, climate-smart agriculture and small mechanization options to support smallholders not only to learn but also enjoy the events through participation in fun quizzes. Farmers purchase seed and other inputs when they redeem vouchers provided by participating companies who develop the questions for farmers.
A farmer who redeemed a voucher said, “I came from Nyimba, because I heard that there is a seed fair here. What I found was very interesting, and I learned a lot. I saw a lot of seeds from different companies. I have also managed to win this pesticide by answering a question, and I am very happy about this project.”
These add-ons to the seed fair ensure farmers learn about climate-smart practices and how they can mitigate climate change effects and crop damage caused by pests by using drought and pest resistant varieties. Pests such as fall armyworm (FAW) are a major threat to smallholder farmers and their crops, as these can destroy crops and lead to a significant decrease in yields and income for the farmer.
Some of the outcomes and benefits for the private sector, and farmers alike include farmers to access different seed hybrids at one location, reduced costs of transportation for farmers who often travel long distances to get inputs. Zamseed, an AID-I partner, was able to promote 600 packs of their ZMS 451-medium and ZMS 721-late maturity seeds. SeedCo, another AID-I partner was able to support farmers with 500 seed packs of their medium maturity SC 303-ultra early, SC 555-early and 657-medium maturity maize seed varieties to farmers. Seed input suppliers noted that maize seed packed in smaller bags weighing 10 kgs and of medium maturity variety seed were the most sought-after and have now influenced how they can reach much larger numbers of smallholder farmers through this observation on improved packaging and demand.
In addition to Zamseed and SeedCo, AID-I partners who participated in the seed fair include the Ministry of Agriculture, CRS, Afriseed, Synergy, Animive Enterprises, Bayer, Amiran, Syngenta, Omnia Fertilizer, and Corteva.