The Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI)
Is one of the nine Departments in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL). ZARI was created during the 2005 ministerial restructuring exercise as a core Department within the Ministry in order to strengthen the research functions and be in conformity with regional arrangements in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries. ZARI has the mandate to provide agricultural services and conduct public good as well as farmer demand-driven research in soils, crops, plant protection and farming systems.
The mission of the Institute is to ‘contribute to the welfare of the Zambian people through the provision of agricultural services, technologies and knowledge that enhance household food security and equitable income-generating opportunities for the farming community and agricultural enterprises while ensuring the maintenance of the natural resource base.
The overall objective of ZARI is to generate and adapt crop and soil technologies and provide services in order to increase agricultural productivity and diversify production. This includes the development of low cost sustainable farming systems for all major agro-ecological zones and farm sizes through participation of both the public and private sectors in research activities. This would ensure the provision of a high quality, appropriate and cost effective service to farmers.
Structural Organization and Functions
The Institute is headed by a Director and is made up of two core Branches, namely, the Technical Services Branch and Research Services Branch under respective Deputy Directors. The Department has a Research Management Team (RMT) which co-ordinates, manages and controls human, physical and financial resources of four technical Divisions, Central Services and Administration. The technical division is made up of four (4) divisions namely Crop Improvement and Agronomy (CIA), Soils and Water Management (SWM), Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) and Farming Systems and Social Sciences (FSSS), while the Central Services division consists of Biometrics, Library, Documentation and Information Services, and General Administration which provides the remaining support services concerning personnel welfare. The Crop Improvement and Agronomy Division has eight (8) research programmes; the Soils and Water Management Division has three (3); the Plant Protection and Quarantine Division has four (4) and last but not the least the Farming Systems and Social Sciences Division is made up of four (4) programmes. The technical divisions and administration form the basis for the formulation of the programme components of the Annual Work Plan and Budget. Activities under these programmes are conducted throughout the country covering ten (10) research stations and on-farm trials and demonstration locations.
Technical Services Branch
The Technical Services Branch is responsible for the technical operations of the Institute involving timely generation/adaptation of technologies in soils and crops in order to provide high quality research services for the benefit of farmers. Technical Services Branch personnel are stationed at the ten (10) research stations covering the three agro-ecological regions in the country. The specific functions of the Branch are to coordinate, implement, monitor and provide technical backstopping in:
- Farming systems and social sciences activities in the three agro-ecological regions (Regions I, II & III). This is done to ensure responsiveness to farmer needs based on the human, financial, physical and other resources and specialization of each region.
- Plant breeding and agronomy in cereals, oilseeds, tree crops, horticulture, food legumes and roots and tubers. This involves the development of production technology packages and multiplying foundation seed in commodity research programmes, and collecting and characterizing of plant genetic materials in the Plant Genetic Resources Programmes.
- Agro-forestry, soil fertility, microbiology, soil survey, soil physics and irrigation research.
- Plant protection (biotechnology, entomology, plant pathology, plant quarantine and phytosanitary services, and food storage and conservation). Plant Quarantine and Phytosanitary Services are also provided at Border Areas which include Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA) in Lusaka, Livingstone, Nakonde, Sesheke, Kasumbalesa, Mwami (Chipata), Kazungula, Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport in Ndola and Chirundu and in-country services at Kafue, Mpika and Kapiri Mposhi. The Technical Services Branch interfaces closely with the Advisory Services (Extension) Branch under the Department of Agriculture.