Amidst the challenges of a growing population, climate change, and global food uncertainties, a glimmer of hope shines in Zambia. A nationwide horticulture training program, a joint venture between agribusiness giant Schweizer Agriculture and seed company Seedco Zambia International, aims to empower small-scale farmers, enhance food security, and revitalize rural communities.

The program, operating under the Schweizer Agriculture Poverty Alleviation and Rural Development (PARD) consortium, aligns seamlessly with the Zambian National Agricultural Policy’s vision of a competitive and diversified agricultural sector. With the government contributing 60% of the capacity building needs and the private sector taking the remaining 40%, this initiative fosters a collaborative approach to agricultural development.

The program’s target is ambitious: to develop 600 hectares of horticultural cultivation by 2028, focusing on key crops like chilis, tomatoes, cabbages, and red onions. These crops not only hold immense potential for domestic consumption but also offer lucrative export opportunities to neighboring countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi, and even further afield to the Middle East and Europe.

The training program’s core objectives are multifaceted. It seeks to equip small-scale farmers with the knowledge and skills to boost their productivity. This includes access to improved horticultural practices, agricultural mechanization, and market linkages. Additionally, the program aims to provide access to finance, empowering farmers to invest in their operations and secure sustainable livelihoods.

Seedco Zambia International, a major player in the Pan-African seed market, brings its expertise in breeding and supplying certified seeds to the table. Their focus on hybrid maize, wheat, soybeans, and vegetables, coupled with their specialization in breeding tomatoes, peppers, and other high-value crops, aligns perfectly with the program’s goals.

The “Quality Pard” brand, a testament to the collaboration between Schweizer Agriculture and Seedco Zambia International, is a symbol of the program’s commitment to quality and sustainability. By promoting adapted breeds and hybrid programs, the initiative aims to ensure long-term success for farmers and contribute to a more resilient and productive agricultural sector in Zambia.

While challenges such as climate variability and infrastructure limitations remain, the Schweizer Agriculture and Seedco Zambia International partnership offers a beacon of hope for Zambian agriculture. By empowering small-scale farmers, promoting sustainable practices, and fostering collaboration between the public and private sectors, this program has the potential to transform rural communities and contribute to a brighter future for Zambia’s food security.