Successful Data Collection Amidst General Elections and Heightened Covid 19 Pandemic in Zambia

The mood of impoverished farmers in an election period can tremendously affect or spoil data collection activities. The situation becomes more complex in view of the covid-19 pandemic which greatly limits interactions among the farmers and the researchers. Zambia was in such a deplorable situation where it was seemingly impossible to undertake data collection activities. Despite the discouraging circumstances, Samuel Mwanza, a student, and member of the Cooperative Research Group embarked on a data collection visit to Zambia which turned out to be interestingly successful with many insights gained.

The visit to Zambia was undertaken from 2nd July to 28th September 2021. The aim was to collect data on the effects of cooperatives on farmers’ access to extension services in the southern province of Zambia. The visit investigated the potential initiatives and how cooperatives facilitate members’ access to extension services. Further, to assess the levels of access to extension services and possible adoption of new agricultural practices of cooperative members.

Using a structured survey questionnaire, a total of 419 households were interviewed from both cooperative and non-cooperative members who were selected from four districts (Monze, Pemba, Choma, and Kalomo districts). In addition, seven (7) Focus group discussions were conducted covering all the four (4) target districts. The event took place in collaboration with field and district staff from the Ministry of Agriculture and cooperating institution of Zambia College of Agriculture - Monze, a leading agricultural training institution in the province. The collaboration offered good exposure and experience to the student.

Alongside main events of data collection, the student also participated through a virtual oral presentation at the virtual Tropentag 2021 conference hosted by the university of Hohenheim from 15-17th September 2021. At the conference a presentation was given entitled Passivity and Activeness of Cooperative Members: A case of Rice Farmers in Western Zambia.

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