On November 3rd, 2023, Sustain Africa and the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) proudly introduced the Sustain Africa Initiative in Zambia.
In an official statement issued by Terrence Mutuswa, AFAP Communications Officer, this momentous event took place at the Mosi-oa-Tunya Hall, Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka, Zambia.
Mr Mutuswa noted that this initiative is a significant step in addressing the pressing issue of food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
It is exacerbated by surging fertilizer prices and challenges stemming from COVID-19, the Russo-Ukrainian War, and recent currency devaluation.
The Sustain Africa program, scheduled until the end of April 2024, he said, aims to provide 20,000 metric tons of discounted fertilizer, improved farming inputs, and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) training to 100,000 farmers in five Zambian provinces: Western, Northern, North-western, Luapula, and Muchinga.
Mr Mutuswa said that the program primarily focuses on staple crops critical for food security, including maize, rice, beans, and soya beans.
AFAP, one of the Sustain Africa founding board members, will coordinate the efforts of various organizations and the Ministry of Agriculture to implement the program, he noted.
He further said that this collaborative effort aims to address key challenges, including the last-mile supply and distribution of farming inputs and fertilizers, demand creation, technical support, and monitoring and evaluation.
Furthermore he noted that the unique aspect of the initiative is the supply of fertilizer at reduced prices through farmer cooperatives. This approach aims to break the cycle of farmers not using fertilizer due to the lack of affordable options near their farm lands and the absence of technical support.
Ben Valk, Executive Director of Sustain Africa, emphasized the initiative’s significance, highlighting the persistent high retail fertilizer prices in many African countries, including Zambia.
He stressed the need for an affordable supply of fertilizer to prevent increased food insecurity at both household and national levels.
Michael Sudarkasa, CEO of AFAP, discussed the industry’s response to the global fertilizer crisis, emphasizing the importance of leveraging existing industry relationships, knowledge sharing, rapid response experience, and on-the-ground presence.
John Makuka, CEO of COMESA, expressed support for the initiative, recognizing its value in coordinating suppliers, implementing partners, donors, and the government to ensure the availability and affordability of fertilizer for vulnerable farmers on the continent.
The launch event featured presentations from partnering organizations, including Yara, ETG, FSG, OMNIA, and cooperative farmers’ representatives.
It was followed by a networking session, providing an opportunity for attendees to explore potential collaborations.
The Sustain Africa Initiative in Zambia is poised to play a pivotal role in addressing food insecurity and enhancing food production in the region.
AFAP remains committed to working with partners to achieve sustainable agricultural development and improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Zambia and across Africa.