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Revolutionizing Agriculture in Zambia: AFAP and BMGF Forge Innovative Partnerships

07 Feb 2024

In a stride towards enhancing agricultural development in Zambia, the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) recently convened with Dr. Tawanda Mthintwa Hove, Senior Program Officer-Digital Agronomy at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). Dr. Hove’s visit to Lusaka, Zambia, served as a catalyst for collaborative efforts aimed at revolutionizing the agricultural landscape and empowering smallholder farmers across the region. The discussions, held between AFAP and BMGF were marked by a shared vision to devise innovative concepts for BMGF investments in Zambia. Central to these discussions were three key concepts designed to enhance agricultural productivity and promote sustainable farming practices.

The first concept focuses on a targeted investment strategy to increase smallholder farmers’ field crop yields. Through strategic collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and various stakeholders, AFAP aims to facilitate access to area-specific blended fertilizers tailored to optimize crop yields. This initiative includes comprehensive agronomic training for farmers, aimed at promoting the adoption of improved inputs and sustainable farming practices. AFAP is poised to spearhead this project, with initial logistical support from BMGF.

Another critical concept emerging from the discussions is the establishment of a public/private sector digital agricultural advisory system. Recognizing the need for a unified advisory platform for smallholder farmers, AFAP, in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and other stakeholders, aims to develop a digital agricultural advisory system. This platform will provide farmers with access to uniform information and data, streamlining agricultural practices and enhancing productivity. BMGF has expressed full support for this initiative, signaling a significant step towards transforming agricultural extension services in Zambia.

Lastly, addressing the challenge of data accessibility for agro dealers, AFAP proposes the development of an agro dealer inventory management system. This innovative tool will empower agro dealers with real-time inventory insights, fostering better decision-making and operational efficiency. BMGF has pledged support for the development and implementation of this system, highlighting its commitment to advancing agricultural technologies and practices.

The collaborative efforts culminated in a productive meeting with the Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Chisumba Shepande, who expressed keen interest in partnering with AFAP and BMGF on the proposed initiatives. Dr. Shepande affirmed the government’s commitment to supporting innovative agricultural projects, underscoring the potential impact of these initiatives on national agricultural development.

Looking ahead, BMGF will formally submit the proposed concepts to the Ministry of Agriculture, with AFAP spearheading the development of a comprehensive concept note for the Agro Dealer Management System. These concerted efforts signify a significant milestone in advancing agricultural development in Zambia, leveraging strategic partnerships and innovative solutions to empower smallholder farmers and drive sustainable growth.