A new Swiss project aims to improve food security and nutrition in Zambia and Zimbabwe

Local news, 18.03.2022

NIRAS Zambia, the Community Technology Development Trust and the Swiss based Research Institute of Organic Agriculture with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) have launched as new five year US$10 million food security initiative – Markets and Seeds Access Project (MASAP) – to reduce hunger, malnutrition and poverty in Zambia.

A new Swiss project aims to improve food security and nutrition in Zambia.
A new Swiss project aims to improve food security and nutrition in Zambia. © NIRAS Zambia.

Agriculture is the backbone of Zambia’s economy. More than 80% of Zambians are employed in the agricultural sector with 90% of those being women. Therefore, accelerating agricultural growth is a key means of eradicating poverty and increasing food security in rural areas where poverty is widespread.

MASAP will link smallholder farmers with seed and commodity producers and farmers’ associations. Different stakeholders in both urban and rural areas such as seed companies, commodity processors, insurance companies and financial institutions will also be engaged.

The crops targeted by the project – common bean, cowpea, groundnuts, pigeon pea and soybean etc. are the foundation of Zambia’s food and nutrition security and a source of income for many smallholder farmers. Nevertheless, the competitiveness and profitability of most smallholder legume farmers are constrained by low productivity due to limited access to improved seed and limited markets.

Speaking during of the MASAP launch event in Zambia, SDC Head of Cooperation in Harare, Dr. Frédérique Weyer said, “The success of agriculture in Zambia and everywhere else in the region is highly dependent on easy access to high-quality, improved seed. For Switzerland, seed is a key input for improving agricultural productivity and ensuring food security, and access to quality seed facilitates food resource diversification and improved nutrition at the household level.”

The launch of the project happened during a time when Switzerland is working on a new bilateral cooperation programme with Zambia that will focus on food systems, health, social protection, climate change and governance. A key Swiss priority in the new cooperation programme will be to partner with the Zambian government and the private sector among other actors to advance the country’s self-reliance through more effective enterprise-driven economic growth, and increased resilience among its vulnerable citizens.

In addition to Zambia, the project will also be implemented in Zimbabwe.