31/12/2013. Lusaka, Zambia. A meeting was organised by PELUM to disseminate information on including smallholders in agriculture research. It was attended by researchers, farmers and representatives of civil society organisations.
The meeting was convened by PELUM Association to discuss a project called Including Small holders in Agriculture Research for Development (INSARD), whose objective is to facilitate the participation of a broader range of European and African civil society organisations in the formulation and implementation of Agriculture Research Development (ARD).
“When including Small holders in Agriculture Research for Development (INSARD), project which has been coordinated by PELUM Association in collaboration with Agriculture Consultative Forum and the University of Zambia, we were sensitised to be part of research to make it possible for research to work for us and that the research findings are used effectively by we the farmers. We have since identified our agriculture challenges, prioritised them and jointly developed research outcomes,” Mr Shonga, 66, a former headmaster, said.
He added:”let me take this opportunity to inform you that we know what challenges we meet. Sometimes, researchers spend time working on crop varieties while our major challenge is on markets.”
Mr Shonga, who has been growing maize, rice, soya beans and velvet beans but is diversifying to fish farming commended PELUM Association, the implementing agency for INSARD for creating a platform where small scale farmers meet researchers and policy makers to discuss the challenges in agriculture and to decide on appropriate research demands.
PELUM Association is a regional network of civil society organisations operating in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa involved in promoting ecological land use management practices, including seed and food security and providing support to small scale farmers in the region.
Faustin Vuningoma, the PELUM Association secretary general, said INSARD, a European Union project – a symbol of North-South partnership, is being piloted in three countries in Africa.
INSARD is working towards making it easier for civil society organisations, both non-governmental and farmer organisations, to be actively involved in influencing agricultural research systems in Africa.
Apart from Zambia, it is also being piloted in Tanzania and Senegal.