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Enterprising Zambian Farmers Are Growing Lasting Solutions To Hunger
|By Laurie Kaniarz, Foods Resource Bank|
|This video describes how Foods Resource Bank engages U.S. farmers to raise resources that enable smallholder farmers around the world to develop their agricultural enterprises and grow lasting solutions to hunger.|
Foods Resource Bank (FRB) raises funds for sustainable agricultural development programs among smallholder farmers in rural communities around the world. In Choma in Zambia’s Southern Province, farmers traditionally face chronic dry periods. Changing weather patterns have led to more frequent periods of little or no rain. Program participants are learning to increase yields with conservation farming methods such as planting in rows, composting, or using cover crops to rebuild soil health with less water, fertilizer, or herbicides. They are also adopting better post-harvest storage techniques, and can learn a variety of skills through community workshops on marketing, financial management, leadership and cooperative development, basic health education, sanitation, and nutrition.
|For more stories of enterprising small-scale farmers in Zambia, see GHI’s 2015 Global Agricultural Productivity Report: Building Sustainable Breadbaskets.|
FRB’s success lies in the practice of inviting the communities themselves to determine their own vision and outcomes rather than a “one size fits all” approach. The work in Choma is carried out by FRB’s implementing organization Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and MCC’s local partner, Brethren in Christ-Zambia (BICC-Z). On a recent monitoring visit to Choma, FRB staff, volunteers, and partner staff were pleased to see evidence of real progress and innovation among participants after the program’s first multi-year phase.
Caster and Loveness’s chickens provide 47 eggs a day. By selling their surplus production, they made enough money to build a new brick home with an iron-sheet roof and a brick storage building to keep their harvest of maize dry and reduce pest infestations. They plan to save back enough maize in this building to feed their family for two years. It is a testament to this couple’s foresight, hard work and good fortune that they are able to save against a future they cannot predict.
One community co-op has built a chemical dip tank to prevent ticks and flies on their cattle. The co-op also put up latrines and a shelter where users can wait out of the rain and sun, fostering conversation and idea-sharing and serving as a training tool for sanitation and hygiene. When people see how the latrines were built and how convenient they are they may be encouraged to build them near their homes.
Another farmer started a bees-and-honey side business to his farm operation. He harvests honey from each of his 14 hives twice a year, bringing in about 500 Kwacha (around $70 US) per harvest per hive, or around 14,000 Kwacha ($1,960 US) per year. This is about the same as the yearly income for an average Zambian, and it is only a side job. Still, what he earns is low for the high quality of his product, so he is looking into selling to a company that would buy all of his honey at a better price for resale.
Before the next program phase begins in Choma, local staff and community members are reviewing the first phase and determining what has and has not been working, before developing a new work plan that will enable both the staff and communities to achieve their goals.
In its first 15 years in operation, FRB has supported over a million people in achieving food security, and is working to support The Next 1 Million by 2023. To learn more, visit www.foodsresourcebank.org/reaching-next-1-million.