Transforming the Farm Input Support Programme (FISP) to diversified agroecology practices in Shibuyunji District, Central Province, Zambia

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This is a second briefing paper to come out of farmer exchange events held in Zambia in May. The first exchange took place in Kalulushi District, Copperbelt Province, and you can find that briefing paper here. Then a second exchange was convened in Shibuyunji District, Central Province, where the objective was to continue sharing ideas on transitioning to a smallholder support system for diversified agroecological farming.

In Zambia, food and farming systems have changed rapidly, and for the worse. Increasingly, farmers use chemicals and poisonous inputs, which they need to purchase. The nation’s agriculture budget subsidises fertiliser and seed through the Farm Input Support Programme (FISP), which enriches big companies while soils are impoverished and a few crops take over the diverse local traditional crops.

Bingo Farmer Field School (FFS) hosted the field visit and dialogue, through a partnership between Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT), Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre (KATC), Zambia Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity (ZAAB) and African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB).

Participants visited the host farmer Mercy Shibeleki’s kitchen garden and the farm of Noel Chalimbwa, a seed custodian working with CTDT. The visits sparked discussion on the technical merits of various agroecological techniques, including production and use of manure, compost and organic liquid fertiliser, and dealing with pests.

Moving from the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) to Agroecology in the Kalulushi District, Copperbelt, Zambia

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This briefing highlights key issues raised at a farmer exchange and learning event held in May 2019 in Kalulushi District, in the Copperbelt Province of Zambia.

The overall objective of the meeting was to share and exchange ideas on transitioning to a smallholder support system for diversified agroecological farming. Participants discussed the roles that farmers, government and other organisations can play, as well as how to involve youth.

The Zambia College of Horticultural Training (ZCHT) Chapula, Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre (KATC), Zambia Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity (ZAAB) and African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) co-hosted the field visit and dialogue.

Fifty-six participants attended, which included farmers from cooperatives in the district and representatives from KATC, Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT), ZAAB, Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA), East and Southern Africa Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF) Zambia, ZHTC-Chapula and ACB; as well as the National Coordinator for Public Agricultural Colleges, the Ministry of Agriculture Kalulushi District Agricultural Coordinator (DACO), extension services and agronomists, and journalists from the National Agricultural Information Service (NAIS).

“I urge farmers to interact and discuss what they know, and to come up with resolutions to inform government to transform the farm input subsidy programme [FISP] into a long-term sustainable programme.” – Joseph Phakati, Principal, ZCHT Chapula

“Climate change has come to stay and it is real. Usually they talk of the southern part being affected but even Central Province where I come from was badly affected this year. I am a beneficiary of FISP, and so are other farmers, who are producing mostly monocultures. But some did not get even one cob from the field. When you add urea, you are adding to the dryness of the field. It is being used as a booster. You are boosting the crop, not the soil.” – Mary Sakala, farmer, Rural Women’s Assembly, Mumbwa

“I am trying to do organic farming. When you go to the farm you can see different types of things – small ruminants, broilers and local chickens, production of medicines for vaccines and treatment. I am doing minimum tillage. I use wild plants to treat pests in the small garden. There is still a challenge of soil pests – nematodes. I use manure and liquid manure for foliar fertiliser. Some methods are in the process, some are already matured. I started cultivating the land using conservation, not burning after harvesting but rather burying residues in the soil, also diversification, increasing the number of crop types, and using ashes to remove insects.” – Theresa Mataka, farmer, Kalulushi