[dropcaps]T[/dropcaps]he Zambian Government promotes the safe use of agrochemicals to bring about efficiency and growth that will result in increased productivity in the smallholder market.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Julius Shawa, said that there is a need to put up mitigation measures to ensure the safe use of chemicals among smallholder farmers. Government has observed that, over the years, the use of agrochemicals by farmers has increased.

Mr Shawa said that Government is keen on the use of agrochemicals and, through the Ministry of Agriculture, is committed to ensuring that smallholder farmers are provided with information on the safe use of the chemicals.

“Government is pushing the agenda of diversification and the adoption of technology-enhancing technologies. This can be attested by the addition of various crops and herbicides under our pilot Farmer Input Support Programme e-voucher system for this 2015/16 farming season,” he said at the Expert Dialogue on agro-chemical sector of Zambia Workshop held recently.

Earlier, the managing director of Musika, Reuben Banda, said that the organisation engaged Knowledge and Skills Limited to carry out an assessment of the use of agrochemicals by the smallholder sector.

“The objectives of the assessment are to understand the dynamics of the growth of the smallholder agrochemical use over the last five years and understand the flow of technical advice through the agrochemical distribution chain from primary firm to farmer among others,” said Mr Banda.

“With our support, over 70 private companies have developed business models that have enabled smallholders to afford and adopt productivity-enhancing technologies,” he said.

At the same occasion, Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) acting Director General, Maxwell Nkoya, said that the agency, in partnership with Musika, is currently implementing a project on agro dealer chemical safety and certification to equip them with the right information on agrochemical knowledge and safe handling practices.