The project in Zambia continues, MENDELU helps local farmers

7. 4. 2021 -

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected cross-border cooperation. Mendel University in Brno had to curb a large part of its foreign projects. One of those that continues is long-term aid in Zambia. The main problems of local farmers are inappropriate agricultural practices and limited access to quality agricultural inputs such as seeds or quality breeds of livestock.

Local Farmers

Local Farmers

Most Zambian farmers are small and medium-sized farmers. The main problems they face are ignorance of modern procedures and insufficient business skills. Experts from the Czech Republic, therefore, aim to increase the living standards of small farmers while sustainable use of natural resources. Integrated farming promotes the self-sufficiency of farms and communities by combining and linking complementary crop and livestock production.

Zambia is one of the priority countries of Czech development cooperation. "MENDELU has been helping in Zambia since 2013, operating in the Southern and Western Provinces and the Province of Copperbelt. We run several development projects to support farmers, restore natural resources, work with a local university in Copperbelt and work on research to restore natural resources. During this time, MENDELU has built a stable background and a good reputation in Zambia," said Markéta Smrčková from the Faculty of Forestry and Wood Technology at MENDELU, which currently operates in Zambia.

The Integrated Farming project, which MENDELU has been running since 2019, has already helped locals build 20 model farms of integrated agriculture that are sustainable and have increased production. In total, experts from the Czech Republic and Zambian employees work with 800 farmers. They gained access from Czech scientists to quality information and agricultural inputs such as seeds, seedlings, or animal production. Together they have planted 8,000 trees, rehabilitated over 100 hectares of land, built 4 irrigation systems and 4 functional ponds. Czech experts also helped to improve the quality of livestock and their nutrition, which in turn increased the financial and business capacity of farmers through the sale of milk and meat.

Mendel University is cooperating on the project with the Czech company Holistic Solutions and the Czech University of Agriculture. The reactions of the locals to the advice of Zambian and Czech experts are, of course, positive. "Local authorities Farmers are also very supportive of our project, as it targets a large number of farmers in 4 areas and supports them in agricultural self-sufficiency and further development," said Martin Danzer, project manager.

"Projects bring real results. By improving farmers' living standards and the stability of their incomes, they can send children to school. So it can be seen that what we are doing has a real impact. We appreciate that the university takes its third role, ie social responsibility, seriously and implements similar projects in Zambia and Ethiopia, for example," added Smrčková. The importance of the project was recently highlighted on his blog by Minister of Foreign Affairs Tomáš Petříček, as one of the positive examples of Czech development cooperation.

The world pandemic COVID-19 has hit Zambia less than other countries. The basic rules in the use of drapes, distances, hand washing are set, however, at present no major restrictions are visible. The projects had to adapt to the limitations in the number of trips and the introduction of online training and consultations, which proved to be beneficial. However, for the smooth running of the activities and to ensure their sustainability, MENDELU currently has two employees in Zambia.

Zambia is still a developing country. Its Western Province is one of the country's poorest provinces due to difficult geographical and climatic conditions and the persisting consequences of a long-term policy of disadvantage and economic isolation. Although agriculture has potential in the floodplain, due to the lack of the private sector and the processing industry, the products are sold raw, unprocessed, and without any added value. The most commonly produced crops in the Western Province are corn, cassava, and millet. The cultivation of rice, mango, and cashew nuts also has potential. However, crop production is negatively affected mainly by low-fertile sandy soil and regular flooding of fields in the lowlands of the Zambezi River. The province also lacks processing facilities.

 

Contact for more information: Mgr. Markéta Smrčková, Phone / Whatsapp: +420 775 198 122, Phone ZAM: +260 975 54 04 74, e-mail: marketa.smrckova@mendelu.cz

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