Agri-business

Sunflower value addition to boost farmers

KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka
THE Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI) says value addition of sunflower through oil processing has the potential to boost small-scale farmers’ livelihoods and contribute to economic development.
The research institute said sunflower is a crop that if fully exploited, could potentially improve income levels of smallholder farmers in Eastern Province.
IAPRI said sunflower oil offers more benefits compared to selling sunflower seed, and that there is need to promote commercialization through education on how to identify potential markets.
The institute said challenges such as counterfeit seeds on the market, and the need to improve input use, the production of the crop has remained low over the years.
Other challenges that contribute to the reduction of the commodity include poor crop management practices such as late planting and inadequate weed control.
“Smallholder sunflower yields have remained stagnantly low due to production challenges highlighted, which calls for yield improving technologies.
“Large-scale oil processers do not operate at full capacity due to the limited supply of sunflower, indicating there is substantial unmet demand,” IAPRI says.
It says one way of helping smallholder farmers to benefit from sunflower production would be to encourage enforcement of the current seed laws against those who knowingly sale counterfeit seeds.
IAPRI feels this could be done through promoting awareness of smallholder rights under the laws of Zambia or, perhaps, supporting local governments in enforcing seed laws.
The research institute, however, says collusive price setting hinders the competitiveness of the sunflower small-scale milling sector, and that the vast majority of the profit in the rural value chain is captured by small-scale millers.

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