Sunday Silungwe is co-founder of Good Nature Agro.

15.09.2017

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Founded in 2014, the Zambian company Good Nature Agro has set itself the goal of making the income of local smallholders sustainable. Local community leaders are trained as private extension agents who train farmers in improved farm practices. At the same time, the company provides seed and other inputs and offers the smallholders a guaranteed sales market.

Mr Silungwe, what are the shortcomings of training for smallholders in Zambia?
The biggest share of farmers in the country are dispersed across large expanses, with little or no access to road infrastructure, providing a huge challenge for outreach. The current government extension to farmer ratio is a pitiful one extension officer to as many as 4,000 farmers – additionally, trainings fail to meet the needs of farmers, and are often maize-specific, outdated and do not encourage diversification and climate-smart techniques. Lastly, there is very little advancement in the use of technology to deliver and follow up on training. Innovative and consistent use of technology could ease access to information and guarantee great results in a productive network of farmers.

What is Good Nature Agro’s approach?

Zambia is home to some of the poorest of the poor farmers that largely grow a mono-crop of maize. Small-scale farmers lack access to a diversity of crops and have limited markets to sell their crop production. We work with small-scale farmers to increase incomes by diversifying crop options and acting as the market with our brand, Good Nature Seeds. We provide our growers with localised extension training, an affordable crop loan that allows them to pay back in seed and a sustainable market for the legume crops grown. Growing for us has increased farmer incomes from an average of 150 US dollars on maize to about 500 US dollars on legumes on a half hectare of land. At Good Nature Agro, we are striving to bridge the gap in demand for certified legume seed.

What is different from government extension services?

The government extension service in Zambia is reliably robust in content with well-trained extension personnel. However, the lack of manpower is a major challenge, and on average, as mentioned above, one extension officer supports 4,000 farmers.

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