By Sharon Kavhu
Windhoek - The Agricultural Productivity Programme for Southern Africa (APPSA) has seen over 3 million people benefiting from agricultural technologies and innovations in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, said APPSA coordinator, Dr Monica Murata.
The Southern Times has learnt that the programme has seen at least 134 agricultural scientists being trained to improve the technology and innovations of crops that are drought and diseases tolerant in the three countries.
Out of the 134 scientists that have been trained, 77 have already completed the training at Masters and PHD level.
“To date we have managed to reach out to almost 3 million beneficiaries, 301 technologies in the three countries. Through these technology, we have managed to develop quite a lot of improved varieties which are drought and diseases tolerant. We also have plants like maize. We are hoping for the spillover of the developments to other SADC member states so that they may also benefit,” said Murata.
She said the project has seen Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia working on 74 collaborative projects in coming up with improved farming technologies.
APPSA is an initiative meant to improve technology generation and dissemination within and among participating countries in Southern Africa. The programme is funded by the World Bank.
Murata said the concept behind APPSA is to ensure that all the technologies that have been in the shelves in the region are made useful for the benefit of the people. She said the initiative created a platform for farmers to have a wider range of choices depending on their environments.
“The participating countries received some credit facilities from the World Bank for the project which had two components, namely, technology generation and dissemination and strengthening regional centres of leadership. In the technology dissemination, we had a principal investigator in, for example Zambia, and he will be working with two other co-investigators from Mozambique and Malawi on the same problem then they share and analyse the outcomes.
“To date we have about 74 collaborative projects between the three countries and the projects have been addressing most of the key research issues which have been prioritised not only in their national countries but also in other SADC member states,” Murata said.
She said the strengthening capacity component aims at improving the science in the region and this has seen the training of the 134 scientists.
APPSA has also seen the operating environment of these scientists within the participating countries being improved. The scientific laboratories, infrastructures such as road and irrigations have been improved to enable an effective environment for the researches and development to take place.
Each country had a specific commodity to research on and develop during the programme.
“Malawi was elected the regional centre for leadership for maize seed cropping systems, Zambia opted for food legume cropping based systems whereas Mozambique is the lead in rice research,” she said.
She said Angola and Lesotho will be joining the programme focusing on cassava and horticulture respectively.
APPSA is a brainchild of the World Bank and is being coordinated and facilitated by the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development in Southern Africa (CCARDESA). It was established in 2013 where each participating country was given a loan facility of approximately US$30 million which comes in batches. The six year programme is expected to end on January 31, 2020.