ZAMBIA – The International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) signed an MOU with the International Trade Centre (ITC) to double the yields of more than 50,000 smallholder cotton farmers for the next three years in Zambia.
The effort, which is part of a larger agreement between the ITC and the European Union for support in Zambia, will see ICAC involve two of its most advanced technologies – the interactive, voice-based Soil & Plant Health app, and the Virtual Reality Cotton Training Program.
“ICAC’s pragmatic approach to increasing yields complements our own workstreams on cotton grading and marketing as well as fiber value addition perfectly,” said Matthias Knappe, Program Manager of Fibres, Textiles and Clothing at ITC.
“We are proud that this all-inclusive approach brings on board all national cotton stakeholders, from farmers and ginners to the government and research institutions,” he added.
This initiative to double yields by 2024 will only add up to the thousands of metric tons of raw cotton that the country produces every year.
According to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report published in May 2021, Zambia produces approximately 55,000 metric tons of raw cotton annually and out of this, the country exports most of its raw lint without any added value to its fiber.
However, because Zambia does not add value to its fiber or make use of its by-products, it imports cotton-made products from China, India, South Africa– more than thousands of woven fabrics of cotton, cotton yarn.
According to Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute, the low share of Zambia’s cotton in global trade, coupled with the decline in yields from 2016 till present, is attributed to the increasing number of competing crops such as soybeans and maize.
“ICAC and ITC will allow beneficiaries to learn in their local languages and use their own electronic devices”Mattias Knappe – Program Manager of Fibre and Clothing, ITC
The project employs the International Trade Centre’s Alliances for Action approach, a participatory partnership model for sustainable agribusiness from farm to the final product and focuses on empowering the producers and increasing productivity and competitivity.
Knappe explains that this diverse group of stakeholders will enrich the project’s experiences as each institution will contribute according to its expertise.
“ICAC and ITC will allow beneficiaries to learn in their local languages and use their own electronic devices. As a trustful partner, we are confident in the excellent results Zambian farmers and the overall sector will achieve,” concluded Knappe.
“I am really pleased that through this cooperation with ITC we are able to empower farmers in Zambia, a country with some of the lowest yields in the world,” said Kai Hughes, Executive Director of ICAC.
“Not only will we be able to improve seed quality, but through our global ‘4 Simple Steps’ program, we will be able to help growers double their yields within three to five years. This is supported by two innovative technologies that will, for the first time, provide farmers with low or no literacy access to knowledge through the ICAC Soil and Plant Health App,” added Kai.