KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka
THE Indaba Agricultural Policy and Research Institute (IAPRI) says there is need for supportive policies to enable the private sector and farmer organisations to develop better credit systems tailored for smallholder farmers toÂ increase productivity.
IAPRI says lack of access to finance has contributed to failure by most smallholder farmers to access improved farming technologies, hence producing low yields.
According to IAPRIâ€™s working paper on Improved Agricultural, â€˜Technology Adoption in Zambia: Are Women Farmers Being Left Behindâ€™, most smallholder farmers lack the technical capacity to benefit from improved technology fully, hence the need for well-trained and up-to-date extension systems to help bridge the gap.
The institute, however, says Zambia, like other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, is faced with underfunding, is understaffed and has outdated extension systems, therefore, Government should consider channelling more resources towards extension services to engage more officers to cope with the rising demand for extension services among smallholder farmers.
â€œDuring the focus group discussions, farmers highlighted some of the benefits they have observed from using herbicides, one of which was the reduction in the amount of time spent on weeding. However, despite these known benefits, the adoption of herbicides is still very low, and the consensus from the farmers was that limited finances prevented them from adopting this technology.
â€œTo address the liquidity constraints faced by farmers, there is a need to have supportive policies to enable the private sector and farmer organisations better develop credit systems tailored for small-scale farmers,â€ the statement reads.
It noted that evidence from a recent study suggests that adoption of improved technologies among smallholder farmers is still low in Zambia, especially among women.
IAPRI observed that the main factors contributing to low adoption include limited access to productive resources; therefore, closing the resource gap can largely improve the overall agricultural productivity among smallholder farmers in Zambia, especially women.
â€œTo help increase the adoption rate of improved technologies, Government, and other stakeholders should consider promoting women participation in agricultural marketing as opposed to limiting their production to home consumption,â€ IAPRI observed.
Policies to develop better credit systems needed – IAPRI
KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka