The University of Zambia (UNZA) has recently set aside a USD 6 million fund to construct the China-Zambia Agricultural Technologies Demonstration Centre (ATDC) at Liempe Farm in Chongwe district, to develop improved agricultural products with the provision of high-tech equipment.
The centre’s aim is to train smallholders and small scale farmers so they can become self-reliant and be able to use the knowledge acquired to help theirs and others’ livelihoods, explained Professor Bao Heping, ATDC’s Director.
The ATDC is part of a Chinese government initiative undertook in 2006 by its former President Hu Jintau, which consists in the establishment of 14 ATDCs across Africa to consolidate the China-Africa trade and agriculture cooperation to support economic growth and food security in the region.
The ATDC’s construction involves the development of a Demonsration Centre that will cover a total area of 120 hectares with facilities for administration and training, accommodation, experimental and demonstration, extension blocks, 13 boreholes for production and domestic water supply, and a water reservoir with a capacity of 600 cubic metres.
The main crops to be grown will be maize, beans and wheat using the irrigation system over an area of 60 hectares to be developed with the boreholes and the water reservoir.
The practices at ATDC are expected to benefit 300 students per year under the jointly management of UNZA and JAU during the first three years, after which the centre will be administrated as a commercial farm solely by UNZA according to the project’s environmental impact statement (EIS) report.
Farmers to be trained, must have undertook a project before starting the program, so they can demonstrate that they are able and willing to develop a project with the centre’s help, Prof. Heping added.
The centre has so far scheduled 39 training programs that are meant to help up to 790 small scale farmers and smallholders and has conducted research to establish additional demonstration bases for mushrooms, soya beans and vegetables in different parts of the country.