On June 22, the AgResults Zambia Biofortified Maize Pilot Manager hosted over 40 representatives from the private sector, government, academia, NGOs, and donor agencies, amongst others, to discuss lessons learned from the implementation of the Zambia pilot and use these learnings to strengthen the pilot’s activities as well as the adoption of PVA maize in Zambia. The event, held at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Lusaka, included a presentation by representatives from the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI) on normalizing the Zambian maize sector as well as others from HarvestPlus, seed companies and millers participating in the pilot, and remarks from former AgResults Steering Committee Member, Willem Jansen of the World Bank Group.
The lessons learned event was the first of a broader series of events the Pilot Management team, Agribusiness Systems International (ASI), will host to discuss the current opportunities and challenges the pilot faces on the ground. The outputs from these events are intended to improve implementation of the pilot and ensure it can contribute to reducing vitamin A deficiency in the country. At the June 22 event, participants were encouraged to share their perspectives, both large and small, that emerged during their experiences with the pilot. From this discussion, AgResults compiled five overall lessons for stakeholders in the field.
Taking into account these lessons, the Pilot Manager is working with stakeholders to strengthen the pilot’s activities. For example, one of the main challenges stakeholders discussed was how the PVA and white maize markets are linked, and how the constantly changing policies impacting the white maize market influence millers’ ability to effectively participate in promoting and selling PVA maize meal products. The Pilot Manager, therefore, continues to work with the millers to create and implement strong sourcing, pricing, and marketing strategies that can be responsive and adaptive to market fluctuations.
Additionally, considering consumer awareness has been an issue, the AgResults team has worked with the pilot’s seed companies and milling companies to host promotional events to socialize PVA maize seed and meal to consumers. One such event was held in Lusaka in May 2017 and the next one is slated to be held in September.
The next AgResults lessons learned event is planned for the summer of 2018.