Author Archives: Bola-ade

SARD-SC Maize conducts monitoring and evaluation of its activities in Zambia

The SARD-SC Maize carried out its annual monitoring and evaluation exercise for the year in Zambia from 4- 11 April 2017. The objective of the exercise was to ensure the activities conducted in the maize value chain were in line with the laid down objectives of the project. It was also to establish the effectiveness of the project regarding what has been planned against what has been achieved. The seven- man monitoring team was led by Dr. Sam Ajala, SARD-SC project Maize Commodity Specialist. A clear agenda and itinerary was developed and shared by Mr. Jeremiah Hantolo, Project Country coordinator, comprising   meetings and field visits.  The monitoring and evaluation exercise took the team to fields in target districts of the country to interact with the Project direct beneficiaries.

More importantly, the M&E exercise afforded the team opportunity to  assess the success of the various sub-projects  including among others, double density under various use of fertilizers  and  good crop management options  on improving  maize productivity and its rate of adoption among local farmers.

Traversing the countryside of Zambia, the team saw firsthand large swathe of maize farms across the country which have adopted double density method and other techniques of planting maize. Interestingly, all the Innovation Platforms working with the project  have adopted the method and implementing it on their  various farms, having  been taught  the accompanying best agronomic practices and use of  herbicide.

Some of the IPs visited were the Kapita Agricultural Camp IP, Chipata; Katete  IP in Mzime Agricultural Camp,  Kabwe Central; Nambo  Agricultural Camp  in Nkushi district, Mulima Farmer Group, Serenje district, Mainza Youth Group, Mainza village, Monze  District, Kabwembala Women’s club, Mbamunya women club both in Mbamunya village, Agro-business dealers and the  country’s Federal Food Agency  among others.

The team visited some large  maize farms, such as in Nambo Agricultural Camp , in Nkushi District, Kaloso farms, Kabwe among others  with double density planting which the farmers said have been very  beneficial  in terms of robust  yield thus leading to increased  productivity, eliminating intense weeding and  cost effective.

What then is double density method of maize planting? “Double density is increasing plant and fertilizer application on a maize farm. One does not need to hand weed because this method eliminates weeding on maize farm,” Dr. Ajala said. He continues: “Double density and use of herbicide and other complimentary crop management practices are the package that the SARD-SC project is selling to the local farmers. All these help maize yield and reduce drudgery. Once herbicide is applied at the planting stage, the farmer does not need to apply it anymore.”

The ‘gospel’ of double density preached by the project is fortunately and rapidly yielding converts. With project demonstration plots all over the country’s districts, there are worthy and inspiring testimonies from farmers who have embraced the method.  Samson Mwale, one of the farmers under the supervision of Ms. Petronella Hamainda, Camp extension officer, Zambia Ministry of Agriculture, Kapital IP, has  this say : “ I am proud of the  double density  method of planting, it gives me good yield and  the maize  variety Adv637w  planted  close with spacing of 75 by 25cm, boosted my yield. This method eliminates weeding.” Mwale  said he  controls weed  growth  by using pre-emergence  weed killer  which reduced the cost of maintaining the plot , while land preparation cost is  minimal; about 100 kwatcha (10 dollars).

While giving the overview of the Monitoring and Evaluation exercise in Zambia, Dr. Issaka Amadou , SARD-SC Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, concluded that the project has been successful in the country for achieving its set out objectives and  outcomes. “Last year, we saw reduced lack of implementation but this has been corrected.   “We have Demo trials all over the place, training of women in new product development  for maize has been achieved, farmer trainings  on double  density and good crop management, field days have been held and  local farmers have been organized into Innovation Platforms and many of the places we visited we  saw that the  farmers are very committed to executing what the  project taught them.”  Dr. Amadou also said quantity of resources used have been efficient and assured that the project has higher chances of being sustainable after the project ends because of the involvement of development partners such as ZARI.

Other project members on the monitoring and evaluation team were Steve Kingi, Agribusiness Specialist; Seyi Fashokun, Accountant; Ms. Zulfawu Yahaya, Procurement Specialist; and Ms. Bola Adewole, Communication Officer and Ackson Mooya from IITA Zambia. Members of the ZARI team were Friday Sinkamba and Petan Hamzakaza.

Project stimulates rural economy by establishing cassava community processing centers in DRC

The Cassava Community Processing Centers (CCPCs) are currently stimulating the economy and creating employment to the rural populations of Kavumu village, in the Kabare territory of South-Kivu province of the DR Congo. Until the introduction of the CCPC in early 2015, there was serious unemployment for the inhabitants of Kavumu community.

The CCPC is a collective agroprocessing enterprise made of farmers’ groups for the processing of fresh cassava roots, High Quality Cassava Flour, fermented flour, garri, and starch. These activities within the Center bring the community together. boost the market for cassava roots, flour, and cassava recipes, and facilitate access to healthy cassava planting materials through the multiplication farms by CCPC members and the local farmers around the factory. Through the SARD-SC project, members of the CCPC were trained on good agronomic practices in cassava cropping systems, business plan development, and market linkage. At the end of the training, participants realized the many opportunities and profitable businesses in the cassava sector, and have now started practicing the techniques they learned. They have also started training other small associations and farmer groups within their community.

In addition to the training, the project gave the organization healthy cassava planting materials for a 2 ha plot from which they harvested 67 tons of raw roots for US$5955.5 at 80 Fc/kg. Kavumu CCPC now employs five regular staff receiving monthly salaries as well as casual workers (around 20 persons each day).

Initially, market for the cassava products was a big problem until the CCPC was linked to the IITA Kalambo Youth Agripreneurs (IKYA). As the CCPC started boosting the market with cassava products, members of the Kavumu community were encouraged to get more involved in the cassava sector and many have benefitted greatly from it. A very good example is a young woman named Mapendo Kabiona Benedicte who is one of the Kavumu CCPC staff. She is the fifth child from a family of seven children (three girls and four boys) whose parents are farmers. Through the support of her parents, she had earlier obtained a diploma in 2014 but she couldn’t gain admission into university to pursue a degree due to lack of funds. As a result, she looked for a job, even as a primary school teacher, but could not get one.

However, following her successful participation in the SARD-SC project training Benedicte was offered a job at Kavumu CCPC with a monthly salary of US$60. In addition, she has been able to convince her parents to produce more cassava to supply CCPC. With increased resources, she has enrolled to study a course in the university.


Two wheat scientists graduate through full scholarship from Wheat project

In August and September 2016, two students, Mala Kachalla from Nigeria and Bruce Mutari from Zimbabwe, respectively graduated with a Masters after successful studies funded by the SARD-SC wheat project. The AfDB funded SARD-SC wheat component of ICARDA runs a scholarship program to build the capacity of African researchers in various segments of the wheat sector. The project has offered a full scholarship to nine wheat scientists from six African countries to pursue their PhD or Masters Studies on wheat in the fields of breeding, seed production, agronomy, and disease and pest management, among others. The scientists are undertaking their studies in various top level universities across Africa, backed by practical field experience and learning exchanges to other countries in the continent.

Mala Kachalla studied at the University of Maiduguri in northern Nigeria and specialized in “Screening of drought tolerant wheat lines in West African lowland environment and molecular marker analysis, using markers linked to IRS translocation, dwarfing genes and leaf rust resistance.” Through the support of the project, Mala Kachalla attended a DNA molecular training in Morrocco, Rabat.

“The major challenge that bedevils wheat production in West Africa is abiotic stress, particularly heat and drought,” explains Mala. “With the knowledge I have acquired in conventional and molecular breeding, I hope to support the wheat sector in my country to develop varieties that are tolerant to drought and heat stresses,” he adds.

Bruce Mutari, on the other hand, specialized in “Diversity studies and marker assisted improvement for rust resistance in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) genotypes” from the University of Fort Hare (UFH), Alice, South Africa. Bruce is about to publish three papers, and one of them is on Detection of rust resistance in selected Zimbabwean and ICARDA bred-wheat germplasm using conventional and molecular techniques.

“Before my research, there was limited genotypic information on slow rusting leaf rust (Lr) and stem rust (Sr) resistance genes deployed in Zimbabwe,” says Bruce. “The knowledge generated through my study will assist plant breeders in selecting parents for use in future hybridization programs and design of multi-resistant cross combination cultivars with improved rust resistance,” adds Bruce. This is important because in Zimbabwe, most of the old and present commercial wheat cultivars and promising breeding lines are susceptible to the current races of leaf and stem rust. Demand for wheat in Africa is rising as a result of increasing population, urbanization, and changing tastes, while productivity remains low due to abiotic (mainly heat and drought) and biotic stresses (disease, insects, pests, and weeds). Through these scholarships, the project builds human capacity of the next generation of wheat scientists and researchers who will help the continent address challenges to wheat production and support countries to raise productivity, curb imports, and improve food security and livelihoods. The scholarships are comprehensive and include a stipend, publication and research costs, tuition, travel, and insurance.