ATS enhances safe use messaging through Spray Service Providers
By Pamela Hamasaka, Corporate Affairs Manager
43 year old Joseph Chisanga, also a Headman of Chambeshi village, is among the 70 Spray Service Providers (SSPs) engaged by ATS agrochemicals in Northern Province; an opportunity that prompted him to abandon charcoal burning and adopt spray service provision as a business.
In 2016, Chisanga was a recipient of a demonstration pack including a bicycle, knapsack sprayer and a starter pack which he has fully utilised to grow his business. He also creates awareness among farmers on safe use of agrochemicals and disposal of empty containers to mitigate their impact on human health and the environment.
With Musika support, ATS Agrochemicals adopted the SSP model to reduce the chemical contact by smallholder farmers. The SSPs are lead farmers living within the community like Chisanga and are trained and fully equipped to assist in the application of agro chemicals at a fee.
“I service 8 to 10 farmers on a daily basis at a fee of K20 per Lima and K80 per hectare for my labour. We encourage the farmers to buy genuine products from ATS stockists to avoid buying fake products,” he noted.
Chisanga has continued to expand his fields because of the use of herbicides. During the 2016/2017 farming season, he planted 5ha of maize, 3 Limas of groundnuts, cassava, and sweet potatoes. He has set an example for other farmers in the community as an early adopter of the use of herbicides.
Theresa Bwalya, 50, was among the 10,000 farmers trained by ATS through the SSPs in Mpika, Kasama, Mbala and Isoka. The married mother of 10 children has emulated Chisanga’s example and witnessed first-hand the positive impact of herbicides on the yield.
"I am one of the first farmers that tried the herbicides through Headman Chisanga in the 2015/2016 farming season and managed to harvest 6.75t from the previous 3t at a much cheaper cost, and with no physical effort needed to clear the weeds,” she said with a smile.
According to ATS Agrochemicals Managing Director, Peter Whitbread, the company’s partnership with Musika in 2013 enabled it to extend initiatives like the SSPs programme to Solwezi, which was the spin-off from Musika’s initial support for the SSP model in Northern Province specifically targeted at smallholder farmers.
Farmers getting trained in safe chemical handling by ATS staff during a field day
“Musika has assisted us to get to remote markets. In order to meet the needs of smallholder farmers, we have tailor made products into smaller pack sizes mainly focusing on herbicides. This has also helped to protect farmers from buying fake products that are quiet prevalent on the market,” he explained.
As a result of Musika’s interventions, the agrochemical sector witnessed the strongest growth between 2012 and 2016. Demand for agrochemicals in general and herbicides in particular rose as retail companies promoted a greater knowledge and skills transfer, and as farmers developed competency in their usage and understood the strong cost benefit attributes.
In order to advance the aspect of safe use along the supply chain, Musika in 2016 supported the training of 263 agrochemical handlers in five districts by Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) and CropLife Zambia in safe use of agrochemicals, safe handling and storage, and information delivery.