7 February 2013

Zambia: Chipata Farmers Want Market for Cowpeas

SOME small-scale farmers in Chipata have bemoaned the lack of market for cowpeas in Zambia.

The farmers said they had been facing difficulties in finding a market for cowpeas.

They said this during a visit by a team from International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) which is touring fields under the Sustainable Intensification of Maize Legume based Cropping Systems for Food Security in Eastern Province.

The CIMMYT team is being led by Conservation Agriculture Specialist Christian Thierfelder and Agronomist Water Mupangwa from Zimbabwe.

Zambia Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI) principal agricultural research officer Smart Lungu is leading the Zambian team.

Various farmers from Chanje Block in Chipata on Tuesday said it was difficult to grow cowpeas for commercial purposes due to the lack of a ready market locally and internationally.

"Whenever we have grown cowpeas for sale, we normally face the resistance in prices so we only grow the crop for relish," they said.

They said they had opted to grow maize, cotton, tobacco, groundnuts, soya beans and other cash crops because of the readily available market.

Dr Thierfelder said conservation agriculture had less labour and higher yields.

He said conservation farming was also improving soil productivity and crop yields, thereby contributing towards food security of farming households in the changing climate environment.

"Conservation farming increases the infiltration of water in the soil and thus reduces soil erosion and surface run-off of water that is desperately needed for plant production," he said.

Dr Thierfelder said the demonstration plots served as learning centres for farmers in each community, adding that the farmers also had a chance to share information on conservation farming through farmer-to-farmer exchange visits, field days and community meetings.

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