On Tuesday, October 10, 2017, at the Radisson Blu in Lusaka, the AgResults Initiative awarded its first two prizes in the Zambia Biofortified Maize Pilot. The two Zambian seed companies participating in the pilot received prizes totaling of US $181,437 for selling more than 452 MT of pro-Vitamin A (PVA) maize seed to farmers across Zambia. The awards, given to Kamano Seed Company and Zambia Seed Company, are an exciting milestone in the AgResults Biofortified Maize Pilot as they are the first awards distributed in the pilot and signify increased activity in the nascent PVA maize market.
The increased sales are expected to increase the amount of PVA maize grown by farmers and ultimately the availability of PVA maize products. Zambia has one of the highest incidence rates of Vitamin A deficiency, which causes blindness, and is believed to contribute to a greater susceptibility to infection and diseases, stunting, and death.
AgResults launched the Zambia Biofortified Pilot in 2015 to promote the adoption and consumption of PVA maize to reduce the levels of vitamin A deficiency. During initial implementation, it became evident that PVA maize was still an unknown commodity in rural Zambia and there was a disconnect between supply and demand. Farmers growing PVA maize lived in remote areas, making it difficult for millers to source maize.
In order to address this disconnect between supply and demand AgResults included an incentive for seed companies to produce, market, and sell PVA maize seed to farmers through their distributor networks. Without sufficient seed availability and sales to farmers located close to the participating millers, there would not be enough supply to for participating millers. AgResults envisioned this would increase supply of PVA maize to meet the millers’ demand. The seed company incentives are sets of progressive sales thresholds over two sales periods between June 2016 and May 2018. This incentive structure provides increasing incentive payments based upon the volume of seed sold, making the PVA maize market for seed companies more attractive relative to their other seeds. With Zambia Seed Company selling enough to reach the minimum sales threshold and Kamano Seed exceeding the maximum sales threshold in the first sales period, it seems the incentive has increased activity in the market.
Tristan Armstrong, the Chairman of the AgResults Steering Committee, and representative from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Government of Australia, highlighted this point in his remarks at the Seed Company Award Ceremony. “These companies play an important role in the maize value chain and their hard work is an exciting step toward AgResults meeting the goals of the pull mechanism in Zambia. Because of their supply of PVA maize seed, millers are now able to source, mill, and sell mealie meal to consumers throughout Zambia.”
“This AgResults incentive gives us the drive to do more, and to sell more PVA maize seed,” Sylvia Horemans, the CEO of Kamano Seed, said of AgResults and the awards, “Of course we could have just produced what we could manage to sell, but then we wouldn’t be ambitious. We wouldn’t be expanding.” Kamano Seed plans to use their prize of US $161,375 to fund an expansion of their seed production factory located at their Lusaka headquarters. The company’s mission is to become the leading supplier of this locally bred, seed hybrid.
“For me, I am proud to sell something of health, of nutrition value, and of benefit throughout Zambia,” remarked Zacks Musonda, the Marketing Director or Zamseed, on orange PVA maize in Zambia. “Right now, there is an opportunity for seed companies and millers to go orange. It is a strong market, and there is definitely an opportunity.” Zamseed was awarded US $20,052 and plans to invest the awards into extension services for their PVA maize seed.
AgResults donors, Global Affairs Canada, USAID, DFID as well as from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Bank Group were in attendance. The Minister of Agriculture from the Government of Zambia, Hon. Dora Siliya was guest of honor and was represented by Mr. Moses Mwale, the Director of the Zambia Agriculture Research Institutes (ZARI). Additional remarks were given by Hon. Max Ngona chairperson of the Committee of Agriculture and Livestock of the Zambian National Parliament; the Chairperson of the Zambia Pilot Advisory Council, Richard Lisimba who is also the last Vice President of the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) and Chitundu Kasase, the Team Leader of the Zambia Biofortified Maize Pilot Management Team, Agribusiness Systems International (ASI).