Mochipapa Research Station is one of the 11 regional research stations under the Department of the Zambia Agricultural Research Institute. It was designed to serve the needs of the Agricultural Regions I (Gwembe Valley) and Region II (Tonga Plateau). Mochipapa is sitauated 10 km south east of Choma Town, on the old Sinazongwe road and located geographically at 16o50â€ S and 27o 10â€ E at an altitude of 1280m above sea level.
Mochipapa Research Station derives its name from a local tree which was named Chipapa because of shedding the bark completely. In the olden days before the arrival of the White man in the area; the local Tongas used to come together within this area to pay homage to the spirits and ask for a good rain during the coming season. These peoples would stay for lengthy periods of time depending on the gravity of what they are asking for from the spirits; or short periods of time ( a week) to celebrate a good harvestâ€™ forinstance.The Shrine keepers would slaughter a black bull and let the blood trickle in the hole dug on the side of the Chipapa, then home brewed beer would be poured in this insatiable hole which never seemed to fill up. The local people claim that all their requests were granted. Today, this Chipapa tree still stands as old as time in memory, with few elderly people to tell the strange tales of the shrine.
Mochipapa Research Station was taken over from private control in 1948, a farm of nearly 17,327 acres (both Mochipapa and Harmony farms) by the then Department of Agriculture of the Northern Rhodesia administration; and up to 1956 was used as an Agricultural Tobacco Station. In 1956, control was passed on to the Federal Department of Conservation and Extension; and at that time the station was run as a tobacco/cattle/maize demonstration farm with a small number of experiments.
After 1960, the policy changed and Station became purely an experimental establishment until 1964 when control was passed on to the Ministry of Agriculture, Research Branch of the Zambian Government. Since then, the station has been financed through an annual grant from the central government. Mochipapa became the national centre for animal research (mainly cattle) because Southern Province was the bread basket of this country having a record of more cattle than any other province in the country. Research on cattle was concentrated on breeding (to improve the local Tonga breed) and crosses were made with Boran, Barotse, Angoni for beef quality and later with Friesian for milk quality, nutrition and pasture. It was not very easy to maintain crop research at the same station with animals because very often every season crop researchers suffered grazing of their trials by the animals despite the barbed wire fencing that was there. The Farm was split in two i.e. Harmony farm which was developed to specifically hold up to 1,500 animals and Mochipapa which held up to 500 animals but the crops were now more secure. Tobacco and maize were the two main crops under research.
Mochipapa Research Station also had jurisdiction over the two testing sites at Siatwinda in Sinazongwe District, off the Kariba dam. At this site research work was mainly on cotton and food legumes during the rainy season, while irrigation and vegetables research was carried out during the dry season. At Sesheke, wheat research was the main activity. At that time i.e. early 70s into 80â€™s there was little on farm research and these centres served as multi location testing sites for most of the crop varieties released today.
In 2000, Mochipapa Research Station was turned into a Livestock Research Trust and Soils and Crops Research was threatened with closure though the decision was rescinded.
Farming Systems and Social Sciences Division
Soil Water Management.
Each of these divisions has programmes which run research activities. Dissemination of new technologies is achieved through demonstration plots planted at Farmer Training Centres and other locations, field days both on-station and participating in those organised by other stake holders, agricultural shows at all levels (i.e. block, district and provincial) and indeed special visits by individual farmers or farmer groups.
Postal Address: P. O Box 630090, Choma
Telephone: 021 3 225713
Food Legumes Agronomist
Mobile: 0979 494496