Building on food security
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CTA. 2002. Building on food security. Rural Radio Resource Pack 02/5. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57414
The Food Security Pack manager with Zambia?s Programme Against Malnutrition explains how the programme is working to support small-scale farmers, and help them move from better food security towards commercial production.
Building on food security Cue: If small-scale farmers aren?t even able to grow enough food for their families, they certainly aren?t ready to think about cash crop production. All across Africa, millions of small farmers feel trapped in low productivity, with no way of improving either their food security or their livelihood. And for many farmers in Zambia, life in the last ten years has become more difficult not less; a succession of droughts combined with a government policy for economic liberalisation, have cut farm productivity among poorer farmers in particular. For Zambia?s Programme Against Malnutrition, known as ?Pam?, the challenge is greater than ever. This non-government organisation is now working closely with the Zambian government, through a variety of initiatives, to support small-scale farmers. The ?food security pack? scheme, for example, is currently distributing vital farming inputs, such as seed and fertilizer, to the most needy. But beyond that, the programme has also recognised the importance of farmers being able to get real economic benefits from any increase in their production. Daniel Sikazwe sent us this report on the work of the Programme Against Malnutrition in his home country, Zambia. IN: ?Ten years ago, Zambia ? OUT: ?value to food crops.? DUR?N 4?44? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: That report came from Daniel Sikazwe, and featured Mlotha Damaseke, manager of the food security pack scheme, for the Programme Against Malnutrition in Zambia. Transcript Sikazwe Ten years ago, Zambia embarked on an ambitious liberalisation programme; subsidies in crucial areas like agriculture were removed. Some small-scale farmers found themselves out of business, while others persevered. In this programme we will try to establish what impacts liberalisation has had on small-scale farmers; how those who have continued with their farming activities have managed to stay alive in the midst of an uncertain food security situation. Mr. Mlotha Damaseke is the food security pack manager at the Programme Against Malnutrition, PAM, a non-governmental organisation that has been working with small-scale farmers over the years. What did liberalisation entail on small-scale farmers? Damaseke The main problem is in terms of input supply. The country is quite big, the infrastructure for service delivery, is quite poor, and that left them very very vulnerable. Most of the people who are benefiting are large-scale farmers who are along the main trunk roads, but eighty percent of our producers, especially for staple foods, are small-scale farmers. This has had an adverse effect on the amount of food that is produced in the country. Sikazwe I?ve come across a lot of small-scale farmers that have talked about working with the Programme Against Malnutrition, and that they have somehow managed to rise above the impacts of liberalisation. Can you just tell me what PAM has been doing with the small-scale farmers? Damaseke Yes indeed. PAM was implementing a number of interventions, some of which are coming from government initiatives. For example the food security pack is targeting the small-scale farmers who have been left helpless by the liberalisation of the economy, and the droughts that have been persisting since 1991, and therefore we are assisting the farmers with inputs; so we are delivering inputs to small-scale farmers throughout the country, so that they can become productive once again, and maybe go into a commercial lending portfolio. Sikazwe Well once you have delivered these inputs to the small-scale farmers, they produce, they need to have a market but then they are competing against heavily subsidised goods coming from South Africa, and probably some other countries. Are there any attempts by the Programme Against Malnutrition to try and help them get a market to try to rise above the challenges of liberalisation? Damaseke In fact, as a way of addressing that problem, the programme has got a component, which is looking at management of excess produce. It?s called the cereal or seed bank component. This is a concept where communities themselves, come together; they make their own storage facilities. The aim to do that is: one, you have small-scale farmers coming at one point, putting in, each one brings whether it is one tin, or it?s one bag, or it?s ten bags, they get an inventory of each person who brings excess produce. And then they can decide when to sell. If they want to keep it for a longer period so that they can sell it when the price is right, for example during the start of the rainy season in January or February, then they sell the excess crop. So that is one way of enhancing the profitability of farming. Sikazwe Well, there has been an argument that some small-scale farmers have been small-scale farmers for a long time; they need to graduate. And attempts that effect to make them graduate into, maybe not commercial farmers, but at least above small-scale farmers, through the aid or help that the Programme Against Malnutrition is giving to the small-scale farmers? Damaseke Yes, the efforts are there. I think what is important is for people to realise is that before a person can feed himself or herself, there is no way that they will grow bigger. Firstly they must solve the first problem; the first problem is hunger in the house. If he solves the problem of hunger in the household, then he will think of having more. And therefore, efforts are being made to see that those who are able to feed themselves for one year, and have excess, maybe be linked to for example, the micro-bankers trust, who can lend them, on terms that they are able to pay back, and then become bigger farmers. So that is one initiative that the small-scale farmers must look for. They should not remain subsistence farmers. Sikazwe Liberalisation has surely come to stay in Zambia. How do you look at the future of small-scale farmers? Damaseke I think they need to take the initiative. The way the formation of co-operatives. If co-operatives are formed where people come together, they buy inputs together, that should be the way to go. Another way is contract cropping by out-grower schemes, that is another way to go. And also adding value to their crop; processing foods so that they don?t go to waste when they are in abundance. Whether it?s groundnuts; is it just roasting, or are you going to make peanut butter and things like that. So there is a component that is looking at adding value to food crops. End of track.