Peace Parks Foundation’s Simalaha Community Conservancy Assistant, Brian Mulomba, visits Morgan Mutakela, a small-scale conservation agriculture farmer in the Sekuzu area in south-western Zambia. Brian is accompanied by Trust Secretary Lubinda Nyaywa, seeing how Morgan’s cassava harvest is doing.
Morgan takes Brian and Lubinda on a tour around his cassava plantation and explains that a mature tree can yield an impressive amount of the root vegetable – anywhere between 5-10 kilograms. The nutty-flavoured tuber is widely consumed in many countries worldwide and is a major food source for many. It is commonly ground into flour and used to bake bread or crackers. It can even be used to make puddings such as tapioca.
Despite originating in South America, growing cassava has gained major global popularity due to its drought-resistant and hardy qualities. In a place like Zambia, where drought is not uncommon during the dry season, many of the crops which thrive during the wetter summer season fail, resulting in communities turning towards natural resources as a source of sustenance.
Peace Parks Foundation has been working closely with people living in the Simalaha Community Conservancy by introducing conservation agriculture – nature-friendly farming techniques – and equipment such as treadle pumps that allow for farming all year round. Working with various partners, Peace Parks supports farmers by providing training, seeds and even access to plant doctors who can tend to sick crops. Many farmers have now switched over from traditional farming methods to conservation agriculture methods, which is good news for the natural environment and the people who benefit from increased food security and improved nutrients thanks to a diversity of crops being farmed.
In addition to this, surplus produce is now also being taken to market, providing families with an income they never had before. This means they can now invest in their children’s education and healthcare and meet a range of basic needs that they were previously unable to do.
Today is Africa Day, and we celebrate how Peace Parks contributes to strengthening resilience in nutrition and food security on the African continent. Working with partners and communities, we enhance agri-food systems that promote good health and provide social protection systems that aim to accelerate human, social and economic capital development.
On the ground, this is benefitting many farmers like Morgan, and their families that were vulnerable to extreme poverty, hunger and malnutrition. Thanks to bumper harvests such as this one, these families are now benefitting from sustainable food production, which takes a great deal of pressure off nature’s limited and exhaustible resources.