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This consultancy mission has been executed within the framework of the FAO Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) - Smallholder Irrigation and Water Use Programme -Irrigation component. The aim was to train camp extension officers and block extension officers on improved horticultural practices and Integrated Plant Nutrition Systems in the SPFS field sites involving five provinces Lusaka, Central, Southern, Western and Eastern. The mission commenced on March 1 and ended on April 30,1998.

During the mission, FAO SPFS horticultural documents were reviewed to provide background information on the training needs. A brief on improved horticultural practices was presented to the technical staff during the first Technical Staff Training one on March 18, 1998. The technical officers agreed on the implementation of the first extension staff training one. Training materials were prepared in form of notes, reprints and slides.

The actual training was conducted over three days period in each province from March 30 to April 30, 1998. A total of 99 extension/block extension officers and 24 technical officers attended the training. The participants were trained in basic horticulture covering the following elements: introduction to horticulture, vegetable production systems, limiting factors of vegetable production (biotic and abiotic), improved practices such as site selection, nursery management, variety choice, seed rates, land preparation, fertiliser application, weeding, pests and diseases and marketing strategies. Field visits to vegetable gardens were undertaken as part of training activities in order to relate the actual farmers practices to what have been recommended.

Through a process of problem identification and solution finding, the extension officers agreed on the key subjects and workplan for training farmers in the respective field sites in provinces.

The participants found the horticultural training to be good, adequate and comprehensive. The training offered sufficient hand-on practical knowledge and skills to extension officers. The participants felt a great need for more of such training workshops.

The following elements were proposed to be incorporated in the next extension staff training two.

· More practical time on management of specific vegetable crops - cabbage, rape, tomato, onion, melons, paprika, and pumpkins.

· Physical identification of pests and diseases and management.

· Physical identification of soil type and use of fertilisers.

· More practical time on irrigation techniques, operation and maintenance of pumps.

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