Ensuring there is food on the table is a full-time job for many rural families in southern Africa. Men, women and children are all involved in the arduous work of growing and getting produce from field to market. Peace Parks and partners are attempting to alleviate this pressure on families so that more children can attend school and more families have nutritional food on their table all year round.
In the longer term the development of nature tourism will provide alternative and sustainable livelihoods for many living in and around conservation areas, but subsistence farming will always play a key role in food security. To ensure this does not negatively impact on the environment, farmers are learning more organic crop production methods that also enable year-round food security. Extra produce will also supplement their income, enabling families to send their children to school.
Ian Middleton, Brian Malumbo, Chris Kwandu and many others from Peace Parks have been out and about this past year promoting conservation agriculture in the Simalaha Community Conservancy, situated in the Zambian component of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area. Conservation agriculture methods are organic, using potholing with manure as fertilizer, treadle pumps to make watering easier and plant doctors to help diagnose and treat problem plants. Forested areas are also spared because farming is more viable than burning the areas large, indigenous trees to make charcoal to sell. In all, conservation agriculture provides food security, profit from the sale of surplus produce, and conserves biodiversity as minimal land is needed for high yields. There have been some real success stories for rural communities in this area. To date, more than 1 500 farmers have been trained in conservation agriculture and effective farming practises, and hundreds more have benefitted from the distribution of treadle pumps, seeds and Groasis Waterboxxes® (which can be used to grow various indigenous trees and fruit trees). There have been higher crop yields too.
The new plant doctor’s clinic opened this year in Simalaha, where trained plant doctors – a team from the Zambia Agriculture Research Institute and the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International – give advice on problem plants. When farmers are struggling with their crops they bring samples to the clinic and leave with a diagnosis, treatment advice, fertilizers or tips to increase yield.
Peace Parks is extremely proud of the dedication, hard work and passion of the farmers, contact farmers and associated workers.