A mobile application supported by the Czech Development Agency (ČRA) helps Zambian farmers better cope with climate change
This year will see the completion in Zambia of a successful four-year project called “Agribusiness for life – livelihood, innovation, sustenance & empowerment”, the goal of which is to increase the agricultural productivity and incomes of 125 medium-sized farmers and 22 cooperatives by building capacity, developing the value chain and improving access to local markets. This project supported by the Czech Development Agency and carried out by Caritas Czech Republic also uses a mobile application that provides weather information and other valuable data for the operations of small farmers and larger local agricultural cooperatives.
The project focuses on building up the capacities of co-ops and medium-sized farmers so that they can run their agricultural businesses productively and profitably. Board members and cooperative members were trained in good governance to improve management, while support was also given to the wives of farmers to take active roles in management positions. Select cooperatives and farmers acquired technical capacities in mechanization, value chain development, food processing technology and diversification based on value chain identification and market analysis. Experts from the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague also developed diagnostic monitoring systems that guarantee the quality of technical implementation. “In Zambia we have been providing long-term help to local farmers to increase production profitability, teaching them effective farming methods and introducing agricultural innovations. The latest of these is a mobile application that provides weather information and other valuable data to small farmers and larger local agricultural cooperatives,” says Mutinta Shandele, project coordinator at Caritas Czech Republic in Zambia. The Terra Crop App was created in cooperation with Czech start-up Big Terra as part of the AgriBusiness for LIFE project financed by the Czech Development Agency. Agriculture plays an important role in Zambia and a large part of the population depends on it for their livelihood. However, climate change is bringing even more uncertainty to this already unpredictable sector. The Terra Crop App aims to help make agriculture more efficient, enabling Zambian farmers to better cope with the impacts of climate change.
“We want to contribute to sustainable agriculture on a global scale by providing an information service to farmers in various locations,” says founder of the Big Terra Company Pavel Juruš when asked about the motivation for developing the application for Zambian farmers. He goes on to add: “We obtain the information by analyzing satellite data, climate data models and models of weather and crop yields. The result is a service tailored to local needs, helping local farmers become more resilient to climate change.”
The Terra Crop Zambia app contains information about the weather, suitable crops for the given time of year, and ways to increase production profitability. Farmers receive tips on how to adapt to weather conditions that are rapidly changing under the influence of climate change, and how to ensure that the methods they use lead to long-term sustainable results. For example, the application helps farmers correctly plan sowing, crop care and harvesting, and to cope with losses caused by grasshoppers and other pests, floods or drought. The application also allows users to share important information from local authorities, experts, NGOs and the private sector.
The Android application was developed in cooperation with three agricultural cooperatives in Zambia, specifically the Katongo co-op from Mong, Kalale from the City of Nkeyema and Twapenga Multi-Purpose Cooperative from the District of Mumbwa. Now Terra Crop Zambia is available for further development and use by local partners. “Local farmers are interested in understanding the weather conditions so that they know what crops to grow and when. So far, 20 farmers have tested the application in the pilot phase. According to their feedback, the application is user-friendly and they are very satisfied with it,” adds Mutinta Shandele. By the end of the project, the application could be used by up to 50 percent of the farmers from the 22 cooperatives (more than 400 members) with which Caritas is cooperating.
The Agribusiness for LIFE (Life, Innovation, Food & Empowerment) project, which led to the creation of the Terra Crop App, supports 22 local cooperatives and 125 individual farmers in 5 regions of Zambia – the Mongu, Limulunga, Kaoma and Nkeyema districts in the Western Province and the area around the Mumbwa District in the Central Province. The project started in July 2018 and is funded by the Czech Development Agency. It helps farmers involved in the project increase productivity and income, while supporting the development of small and medium-sized cooperatives, improving financial literacy and providing vocational training.
As part of the project, Caritas Czech Republic also helps local farmers get their products to market. This is in conjunction with the Zambian start-up Lima Links, which provides a digital platform that gives farmers access to local markets.