Boosting Food Security and Enhancing Nutrition in Zambia
Efforts Build Supply Chains to Spur Adoption of Biofortified Provitamin a Maize
A quartet of projects and pilots are at work currently in Zambia, striving to boost food security and enhancing nutrition. ACDI/VOCA implements the Feed the Future Production, Finance, and Improved Technology Plus (PROFIT+) project in Zambia. PROFIT+ helps farmers capture larger market shares and boost their income by working closely with private sector stakeholders to develop innovative supply chain models to reach rural areas. As part of this process, PROFIT+ empowers farmers to produce higher-quality, more valuable, and more nutritious food for their families and to sell at market. The project strives for sustainability by empowering local actors to adopt and replicate these models, while introducing new production technologies that protect and complement effective indigenous knowledge and practices.
ASI Targets Millers as Market Catalysts for PVA Maize Uptake
Agribusiness Systems International (ASI), an affiliate of ACDI/VOCA, serves as Pilot Manager for the AgResults Zambia Biofortified Maize Pilot, which uses a “pull” mechanism to increase consumption of biofortified provitamin A (PVA) maize to combat vitamin A deficiency. Instead of directly supporting farmers (“push”), ASI fosters sustainable vitalization of the entire supple chain by incentivizing commercial millers to source and convert biofortified provitamin A maize into PVA food products, such as breakfast meal. Like the well-known X Prizes, AgResults fosters private sector-led innovation by rewarding successful models that meet commercial and development successes.
Vitamin A deficiency is one of the primary causes of preventable blindness in children and can increase the severity of infections. In Zambia, research indicates that vitamin A deficiency rates are as high as 31 percent in children and 21 percent in women. The AgResults Zambia Biofortified Maize Pilot is one of several “pull” mechanism initiatives launched under AgResults. AgResults is a $118 million collaborative initiative between the governments of Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that works to improve global food security, nutrition, and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers by incentivizing the private sector to create innovative solutions to market barriers.
HarvestPlus Partners with PROFIT+ to Promote PVA Maize
HarvestPlus is part of CGIAR’s Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH), which delivers gender-equitable health and nutritional benefits through agricultural development. It works with a wide range of partners, among them ACDI/VOCA, to promote PVA maize across Zambia. Its goal is to support 500,000 farming households to grow PVA maize by 2018.
HarvestPlus supports research institutions as they develop and release PVA varieties. Released varieties are then licensed to private seed companies to produce seed for sale to farmers. This commercial seed is sustainably promoted through rural agrodealer networks (a PROFIT+ initiative) to smallholder farmers.
PROFIT+ Supports Zambia Agricultural Commodities Exchange (ZAMACE)
Additionally, PROFIT+ supports ZAMACE, a private company that operates Zambia’s only commodities exchange, to improve agricultural trade. The Commodity Exchange allows farmers to trade certified crops on stock markets and use warehouse receipts as Negotiable Instruments (utilized as collateral with participating financial institutions). ZAMACE is expanding its services to generate more benefits to a broader range of buyers and sellers and to positively affect farmers in rural Zambia.
Of this quartet of initiatives—PROFIT+, AgResults, HarvestPlus, and ZAMACE—Executive Vice President, Communications & Outreach, Paul Guenette, who recently returned from a field visit to project offices in Zambia, said: “The synergy among these efforts highlights ACDI/VOCA’s conscious strategy to establish an anchor project in a country that’s strengthened and made sustainable by its partners and satellite projects that have their own diverse funding and objectives.”