Group of Zambian farmers standing near field

Empowering Zambian cotton farmers

25 July 2023
ITC News

The Cotton Development Trust trained Zambian cotton farmers for sustainable growth and increased yields.

Cotton farmers in Zambia have suffered from a reliance on synthetic chemicals for pest control, as well as a lack of access to high quality seeds. Harmful pesticides were damaging the health of their soil, reducing yields and restricting their income.

Under the framework of the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP) programme, the Cotton Development Trust conducted training sessions in June this year in several regions of Zambia, including Sinazongwe, Mumbwa, Keembe, Petauke, Katete, Chipata, and Mfuwe.

The goal of these trainings was to introduce Zambian cotton farmers to methods and products that could double their yields. The farmers were trained on the benefits of treated and tested seeds to enhance viability, and on the use of biopesticides and mole traps as alternatives to synthetic pesticides.

The trainings also promoted agronomic planting practices to improve crop productivity. The farmers were shown how to make biochar from cotton stalks, which will allow them to improve the quality of their soil.

Zambian farmers wearing virtual reality headsets
Farmers used virtual reality headsets to experience videos about best practices for sustainable cotton production and eco-friendly pest management.
Photo by ITC

The sessions made use of virtual reality headsets to share videos about best practices for sustainable cotton production and eco-friendly pest management.

‘We are happy to know that there are plants around us that we can use to control pests in order to reduce the use of synthetic chemicals we get from companies through loans,’ said one farmer in Sinazongwe.

A farmer from Mumbwa was enthusiastic to see improved yields from rejuvenated soil.

‘We are surprised to know that we can make biochar out of cotton stalks and use it as manure to help rejuvenate our soils,’ the farmer said.

Another farmer from Pemba looked forward to applying what he learned at the training sessions, emphasizing the need for continuous support for farmers.

‘We are happy to know there are organizations that are bringing projects to help us double our yields. Such programmes to the farmers should always continue,’ added a farmer from Pemba.

One of the ACP programme's components focuses on doubling smallholder farmers' income through various interventions. It partnered with the International Cotton Advisory Committee to conduct field trials, demonstrations, training, and capacity building for farmers, ginners, and extension officers.

The programme aimed to equip farmers with soil and cotton plant health applications, virtual reality training modules, and e-training materials tailored to local climatic and soil conditions.

About the programme

The ACP Business-Friendly Programme, jointly funded by the OACPS and the EU, aims to improve the competitiveness and growth of agribusiness firms in ACP countries, generating inclusive and sustainable economic growth.