Organic Producers & Processors Association of Zambia (OPPAZ), the national organic agriculture movement for Zambia has started Business-Intended Organic Farming and Wellness programme (BIOF) in collaboration with the private commercial sector and training institutions. This is a sustainability initiative to obviate the negative consequences that rocked its’ operations due to dwindling external financing when Zambia attained status of Low Middle Income Country in 2009.
BIOF has been implemented since 2017 with little promise of success. In 2018, the private sector supported efforts seem to have rejuvenated BIOF as a business – configured service-oriented initiative. The initiative focuses on capacity building for i) increasing organic productivity and production of family farmers in Zambia, ii) promotion of healthy living by rousing household food processing and utilisation.
In June last year that OPPAZ realised the need to actively work with the private sector in making requisite resources for production to farmers. It forged relationships with a Microbial Fertiliser company and embarked on collaborative yield demonstration trials to show that organic farming would outperform conventional farming with respect to productivity, quality of products, cost of production and net earnings. Trials of this nature were conducted in many locations for crops like maize, sunflower, soyabean and wheat. Other crops include rose flowers, avocados, papayas, mangoes, tomatoes and a range of assorted vegetables.
The preliminary results of the trials show about 15 % increase in yield over and above the conventional farms. This good news heightened the spirits of OPPAZ to not only spread the message but to make this organic input available to all farmers. This led to crafting of BIOF as an alliance of the private sector operators with family farmers. Sensitization meetings with some 5,000 family farmers have been conducted with the major lesson that farmers need to know and understand the production technology. For this purpose a training programme on organic farming and utilisation of the whole range of organic foods was crafted in June this year. The first training seminar lasting three days was fully sponsored by the trainees themselves. Family Farmers in six villages of Chongwe District have so far being involved in an exercise which started with capacity assessment for production and supply of sufficient volumes. The next stage is the provision of actual training on the group production design over time and space.