Smallholder farmers in Zambia will access high-quality disease-free horticultural seedlings through a $1.8 million project by MRI Seed, a subsidiary of Syngenta Zambia, in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation programme.
“For Syngenta, smallholder farmers around the world and in Zambia are key to solving the growing gap between the supply and demand for affordable food,” said Mark Stokes, Head of Customer Marketing, Syngenta Zambia.
The project aims to build a sustainable seedling distribution model for hybrid vegetables; provide access to market information and linkages; train farmers on good agricultural practices and business management; and introduce new technologies to smallholder farmers.
It will test the commercial viability of innovative business models designed to enable the farmers increase their agricultural output and thus their profitability safely and sustainably.
Syngenta will establish 20 seedling sites in 20 districts across Zambia, each owned and operated by an Entrepreneurial Young Plant Raiser (YPR).
The YPR will provide business and technical training; and facilitate market linkages for 12, 000 smallholder farmers.
The project will focus on tomato and cabbage seedlings but Syngenta will conduct trials and testing on the commercial viability of kale (rape), cauliflower, broccoli, carrot and potato- crops with a high potential in Zambia.
The company will also help promote a pilot programme for YPR’s “Vegetable in a Bag” concept where a small portion of YPR seedlings will be sold in reusable packaging, with no ground soil and minimal water, making them suitable for urban and peri-urban use.