EARLY INPUT DELIVERY VITAL TO INCREASING FARMING EFFICIENCY
By Samantha Smyth |
|The mining giant takes steps to increase productivity for rural farmers as agriculture’s contribution to GDP remains subdued|
|KALUMBILA, ZAMBIA – Early distribution of farming inputs is essential to improving agricultural productivity, which guarantees food security in rural areas, First Quantum Minerals has said.|
The mining firm noted that the agriculture sector played a crucial role in the country’s overall economic development as it was a source of employment and income for many Zambians.
First Quantum believes that improving agricultural production is key to stimulating increased trade in the sector, which in turn leads to growth in farmer’s per capita income.
As the industry grows, so too will its contribution to GDP and by extension, national development.
The mining firm’s Agricultural Livelihoods Scheme has identified timely distribution of farming inputs as one of the critical components that determine a season’s success.
The approach is particularly timely given concerning figures on the agriculture sector’s performance. According to the Zambia Agriculture Status Report 2020 by the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI), the contribution of Zambia’s agricultural sector to GDP has gradually decreased to 2.7 percent from a 6 percent average over the last decade.
The report adds that significant dips in GDP contribution were seen in 2015 and 2018 with the latter recording the decade’s lowest contribution at 2.6 percent. A muted improvement of 0.1 percent in 2019 did little to help the sector close the decade on strong footing.
“Livelihood diversification is a vital aspect of developing the communities around FQM’s Kansanshi Mine in Solwezi and Sentinel Mine in Kalumbila through our Kansanshi and Trident Foundations.
“Originally, community members in the mine catchment areas were subsistence famers and that also defines the cultural context. As such, FQML’s sustainability strategy is to enhance what community members can potential do better by enhancing what they already know through conservation farming, with the aim of achieving both food security and income.
“The FQML livelihood support strategy therefore integrates conservation farming training with entrepreneurship capacity building, in order to stimulate mind-set transformation to start viewing farming as a viable business venture. For income generation through agribusiness, high-value crops have so far been modelled, annual income generation projected and stimulation for adoption commenced. The same approach applies to farming for nutrition in order to balance income with food security at community level. The ‘common denominator’ for the livelihood initiatives supported by FQML is the drive towards self-reliance and appreciating use of available natural resources and agribusiness opportunities, which is the easy way to achieve sustainable livelihood,” explained FQM’s Trident Foundation Manager Joseph Ngwira.
“Most of the community members are subsistence farmers who have for many years relied on traditional cultivation methods that fatigue the land and produce stagnant yields.”
“The conservation farming programme has been running for quite some time now. And we desire to impart conservation farming methods in rural farmers for a sustainable source of income.”
Mr Ngwira explained that before farmers joined the mining firm’s support programme their average crop yield was 6 bags of maize per lima. This went up to an average of 18 bags per lima thanks to weekly visits to farmers by the foundations’ field officers who offer expert guidance to participating farmers.
He added that “The mine’s livelihoods projects seek to stop the dependency syndrome in rural communities by training locals in conservation farming techniques to help them become independent entrepreneurs.”
“Our schemes run in such a way that the farmer pays for 50 percent of the inputs needed while FQM covers the rest and eventually, the farmer will be able to meet the full cost without the mine’s input.”
“Since there is a limited number of farmers we can onboard on this programme at any given time, the plan is to wean those that we have been with for the past five years and adopt new farmers so that they too may enjoy the benefits of entrepreneurship as opposed to waiting for employment from the mine.”
Mr Ngwira said that the long-term economic growth potential in North-Western Province should not be narrowly considered as being mining-only, but instead should be appreciated for its potential to develop secondary economic activities like commercial agriculture driven by population growth and mining’s multiplier effect.
For over 20 years, the mining firm has been training local farmers in best agricultural practices to achieve food security and alleviate poverty in rural communities around its mines.
First Quantum Minerals has provided training and technical support to approximately 40,000 farmers.
|About First Quantum Minerals LtdFirst Quantum Minerals Ltd is a global metals and mining company producing mainly copper, gold and zinc. The company’s assets are in Zambia, Spain, Mauritania, Australia, Finland, Turkey, Panama, Argentina and Peru.|
In 2020, First Quantum globally produced 779,000 tonnes of copper, 265,000 ounces of gold and 13,000 tonnes of nickel.
In Zambia it operates the Kansanshi mine – the largest copper mine in Africa by production – and smelter and the Sentinel mine in Kalumbila.
The company is listed on the Lusaka and Toronto stock exchanges.
My name is Sam, I am 20 years old, I live in the UK and love to travel. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and watching movies, especially paranormal/horrors. I love True Crime and learning about history.
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