TRYNESS TEMBO, Lusaka
THE number of small-scale farmers adopting hybrid seed in the 2016/17 farming season is in excess of 800,000, translating in almost triple the figures in the previous season.
Syngenta Zambia head of sales Paul Kapapula has attributed the increase to Government’s continued investment in the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP).
Mr Kapapula said previously, most smallholder farmers had a negative attitude towards hybrid seed, saying it is expensive overlooking the benefits of faster growth and higher yields.
“I think Government’s investment in FISP has led to increased adoption of hybrid seed which was previously below 300,000 farmers but the number has grown to over 800,000 farmers.
“Government’s investment in FISP has exposed more farmers to hybrid seed and has led to increased yields,” Mr Kapapula said in an interview last week.
He also said the company, which has trained over 100,000 farmers in the last three years, is promoting hybrid vegetable seeds by making it more affordable to farmers in its contribution to the agriculture sector growth.
He said the firm is looking at becoming a key player in the provision of high quality seeds both locally and internationally.
On challenges, Mr Kapapula said bad road network in remote areas is making it difficult for the company to transport various inputs and lack of access to finance by farmers to buy inputs.
“Syngenta is a global company, looking at crop protect and made an investment in Zambia to tap into the white maize, which most small-scale farmers grow,” he said.
And Syngenta Zambia head of customer marketing Mark Stokes said the firm is strengthening market linkages for farmers by working with various stakeholders in the sector.
“We want farmers to make profit and increase their income at household level. Currently, we are working with over 500 agro dealers across the country. We take the livelihood of small-scale farmer seriously by helping them increase yields,” he said.
The company is exporting seeds to Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Tanzania and Kenya.