Cassava as drought insurance: Food security implications of cassava trials in Central Zambia
Wide, weather-induced fluctuations in maize production lead to recurrent food shortages in Zambia's maize consuming regions, while the cassava-growing regions of the north enjoy stable food production, even in drought years. Noting this striking correlation between drought vulnerability and the prevalence of maize as a staple food, a growing array of agencies in Zambia has begun introducing highly productive new cassava varieties, developed in the north, to more central and southerly regions in an effort to provide low-cost food security during drought years. Yet agroecological conditions in these drought-prone regions differ significantly from the northern research stations where Zambian scientists developed the new cassava varieties. So it is not clear that the varieties or management practices that work well in the north will prove optimal in other regions. In order to assist farmers and agencies interested in expanding cassava as a food security crop in central Zambia, we have conducted cassava trials in central Zambia over the past three years. Concurrently, we have engaged in regular onfarm discussions with early adopting farmers. Results from these investigations suggest that, with some modification of management practices recommended in the north, many of the new cassava clones offer a feasible means of mitigating lean season hunger and providing low-cost, in-kind drought insurance for rural households in central Zambia.
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- Haggblade, Steven & Tembo, Gelson, 2003. "Conservation farming in Zambia:," EPTD discussion papers 108, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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