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Crop Improvement & Agronomy

Crop Improvement & Agronomy



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Overall objective
The overall objective of the division is to develop and adapt appropriate crop varieties and agronomic technologies for all categories of farmers in different agro-ecological regions.

Specific objectives

    To develop stable and high yielding varieties of both food and cash crops.
    To develop varieties with high nutritional value, good storability and acceptable qualities.
    To breed for resistance or tolerance to pests, diseases and adverse conditions such as drought and soil acidity.
    To develop appropriate production and management packages for sustainable agricultural production.
    To conserve germplasm of important crops.

The division houses the following research programmes with their headquarters indicated in brackets:

1. Cereals Research Programme

    Maize (Golden Valley)
    Sorghum (Golden Valley)
    Pearl millet (Mongu)
    Finger millet (Misamfu)
    Wheat (Mt. Makulu)
    Rice (Misamfu)

2. Oil seeds Research Programme (Mt. Makulu)

3. Plant Genetics Resources Programme (Mt. Makulu)

4. Vegetables Research Programme (Nanga)

5. Tree and Plantation Crops Research Programme (Nanga)

6. Root and Tuber Crops Research Programme (Mutanda)

7. Food legumes Research Programme

    Groundnuts (Msekera)
    Pigeon pea (Msekera)
    Bambara ground nuts (Msekera)
    Bean (Misamfu)
    Soybean (Kabwe)
    Cowpea (Kabwe)

8. Kenaf Research Programme (Kabwe)

Research in the respective programmes is, however, conducted in several locations.

These include breeding; developing production packages; multiplying basic seed; and collecting, characterising and conserving plant genetic resources (germplasm).

The division has developed and released a number of crop varieties that are multiplied and marketed by several seed companies, NGOs and government programmes. Production packages have also been developed and crop germplasm collected and conserved at the National Plant Genetics Resource Centre in Mt. Makulu.

Linkages have been established with programmes in other divisions of ZARI, departments in MA and other government institutions, NGOs and the private sector. Linkages are in form of joint research projects; committees such as the Variety Release Committee, National Seed Implementation Committee, Project Advisory Committee on Biotechnology Capacity Building under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Vocational Training and NISIR, Genetic Resources Policy Initiative; formulation of the Bisafety Act, Plant Breeder's Rights Act, National Biotechnology and Biosafety Strategic Plan, Cassava Standards for consumption and industrial use in collaboration with the Agricultural Consultative Forum (AFC), Zambia Bureau of Standards and various Institutions (e.g. PAM, Tiger Animal Feeds, Food and Drug etc.).

Regional and International Collaboration
Programmes participate in regional/international research networks and projects. These include the New Seed Initiatives for Maize in southern Africa (NSIMA); International Sorghum & Millet Project (INTSORMIL), Southern Africa Root Research Network (SARRNET), Southern Africa Bean Research Network (SABREN), HarvestPlus, SADC Plant Genetic Resources Centre, International Treaty on Plant Genetics Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA). A member of the National Plant Genetic Resources Programme is the Chair of the Governing Body of the ITPGRFA for two terms from 2006.  Programmes also have collaborative activities with Consultative Groups for International Agriculture Research Centres (CGIARCs) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

Brochures, posters, booklets, impact studies on maize, sorghum and groundnut technologies documents and pamphlets as well as crop production guides have been published.

Contact address:
Dr. Dickson Ngu'ni
Chief Agricultural Research Officer
Zambia Agriculture Research Institute
Mt. Makulu Central Research Station
Private Bag 7

Tel: 260-211-278389
Fax: 260-211-278130

Email:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Project Summaries


  • Rice                                                          Rice                                                                       Cassava                                 
  • Legumes                                                   Legumes                                                               Climate Smart
  • Maize                                                        Maize                                                                      Legumes
  • Sorghum                                                   Multiple crops                                                       Maize
                                                                    Conservation Agriculture                                  Rice

Organization Info

The Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI) is one of the departments in the Ministry of Agriculture.

Contact Us

Address : Mt Makulu Central Research Station, Chilanga

Phone No : +260 211 278380

                  +260 211 278130

Email : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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