Climate change has undoubtedly impacted the Zambian agricultural sector negatively. For this reason, the Zambian government in cooperation with other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and international development cooperation agencies are taking necessary measures that will help reduce the adverse effects of climate change and improve resilience among farmers. The Zambian-German Agricultural Knowledge and Training Centre (AKTC) is one such project that has taken a leading role in educating Zambian farmers on the sustainable mitigatory measures against the effects of climate change.
CAFM Maize and Soya beans Plots. Photo by Mr. Innocent Maphango. 15th Jan. 2020.
Since 2019, AKTC initiated a research project known as the Climate Adapted Farming Methods (CAFM) to be conducted on a 27 ha of rain-fed land. This project is being done in collaboration with the University of Hohenheim in Germany and the University of Zambia (UNZA) and with financial support from the German Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). The design and implementation of the project have been done by Mr. Godfrey Omulo, a PhD candidate at the University of Hohenheim. The CAFM research is aimed at reducing climate-related yield losses and securing income for market-oriented farmers in Zambia through the application of climate adaptive tillage methods. Furthermore, the study intends to give small-scale, emergent and large-scale farmers, as well as agricultural companies and institutions in Zambia insights on Mechanized Conservation Agriculture (MCA) by providing hands-on training and demonstrations.
The CAFM project was officially launched on 15th October 2019 by the Zambian Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Michael Katambo at the AKTC Project located at the Golden Valley Agricultural Research Trust (GART) Chaloshi farm in Chisamba. Following the launch, maize, soya beans and a mix of cover crops (Sorghum, sun hemp, millet and sunflower) were planted on different plots of a 27ha piece of land under Zambian farming conditions without irrigation and using small tractors of 60hp and associated implements. The plots were tilled using three (3) different land preparation methods, namely discing (conventional method), ripping and no-till (conservation methods). Thus, differences in plant development, soil improvements, soil moisture retention and yield were observed for both crops under the varied tillage methods while ensuring similar applications of other agronomic operations.
To publicise the first findings of this research, AKTC held a field day on the 25th of February 2020 at GART Chaloshi Farm, CAFM fields. A total of 175 people from different agricultural backgrounds and institutions in Zambia attended this special event.
Even though the final findings in terms of yield differences have not been fully established, some significant differences in terms of crop development were observed between the disced and the no-till (direct seeding) plots. The maize in the no-till plots looked healthier with bigger cobs and taller stalks as compared to that in the disced plots.
Water Infiltration demonstration by Mr. Innocent and Mr. Godfrey. Photo by Mr. Helmut Anschütz. 25th Feb. 2020
Among other activities that took place during this field day were the water infiltration and soil profile demonstrations that were conducted by the AKTC experts Mr. Innocent Maphango and Mr. Leslie De Jager, respectively, who also highlighted to the farmers the importance of cover crops in returning essential nutrients to the soil.
Root development in cover crops through the soil profile. Photo by Mr. Helmut Anschütz. 25th Feb. 2020.
To further reach out to the nation about the Climate Adapted Farming Methods results, NAIS (a specialised information wing of the Ministry of Agriculture, Zambia) produced a documentary covering the field day events which was later televised through the Zambia National Broadcasting Cooperation (ZNBC) TV2 news on the 26th February 2020. With this information dissemination step, we can rest assured that many farmers and stakeholders across Zambia have been enlightened on the best farming method capable of coping with the effects of climate change.
Author: Mrs. Grenda Mweemba, Project Assistant–Curriculum Development, AKT, Zambia, 25th February 2020.