SMALLHOLDER farmers should be exposed to agricultural extension services for them to acquire knowledge of growing crops that the market requires, Musika communications and outreach manager Pamela Hamasaka has said.
Meanwhile, Zambia Seed Company (Zamseed) sales manager Enoch Mbewe says smallholder farmers have the potential to boost food security, reduce poverty and increase incomes if they adopted irrigation methods of farming.
During the launch of the crop diversification and horticultural promotion intervention by Zamseed supported by Musika in Chief Mphuka’s area in Luangwa district on Tuesday, Ms Hamasaka said over 40 female farmers belonging to five groups have been engaged in an irrigation initiative.
She said women living along the Luangwa River are determined to produce crops throughout the year but face challenges of crocodile attacks when drawing water from the river.
“We embraced this initiative from Zamseed and we procured on lease from Saro diesel pumps to bring water to the fields and the farmers are now growing a variety of crops which have a ready market. The challenge is now to establish a sustainable extension service network through individual farmer visits, trainings, field demonstrations and advisory services,” Ms Hamasaka said.
Musika operations director Joshua Munkombwe said under the initiative, each group received an irrigation pump on a one-year lease and vegetable seed supplied by Zamseed.
Senior Chief Mburuma said agriculture should be supported to improve household incomes throughout the year.
Luangwa acting district commissioner Jairos Simukoko commended Musika and Zamseed for supporting women in crop diversification, thereby reducing dependency on maize cultivation.
And Mr Mbewe said there is need to place emphasis on land that has potential to benefit from irrigation infrastructure.
“Five farmer groups were identified to be beneficiaries of the pumps, since the major challenge they faced is access to irrigation water due to high incident of crocodile attacks,” he said.