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.