In Zambia’s Simalaha Community Conservancy, farmers have switched from traditional labour-intensive farming methods, which historically led to frequent poor yields, to environmentally-friendly conservation agriculture techniques. This sustainable approach to farming has led to a high yield of healthy-looking crops, allowing farmers to sell the excess in local markets via the new agri-hub pilot project.
The Digging Of Wells
In one of the conservancy’s local villages, Simalaha Community Assistant, Brian Mulomba, has met up with a farmer to see how his crops are doing. Mr Godfrey Muhamubi is one of the farmers who has switched to conservation agriculture farming and bought his seedlings from the agri-hub. Both initiatives have been driven by the Conservancy management team in partnership with Peace Parks Foundation and partners to help improve livelihood opportunities and lift families out of poverty. Alongside conservation agriculture techniques, wells have also been dug, providing the community with a water supply that can sustain their crops long into the dry season.
Throughout the world, water remains the most important resource, and this is especially true for this drought-prone region of Zambia. Working together with Simalaha communities, Peace Parks Foundation ensures that these farmers have year-round access to water to keep their domestic livestock and agriculture projects alive. Not only have new wells been dug, but the existing ones have been deepened to ensure that enough water is collected when the summer rains arrive, as is the case with this farmer.
A Bountiful Harvest For Local Markets
Under the expertise of Argentinean agronomist Diego Cerrudo, commercial agriculture projects have been developed to address and overcome some of the major challenges that local farmers face. Limited market access, difficulty acquiring farming materials, and inadequate training have all contributed to failing farms, which threaten the health and livelihoods of rural communities.
Various interventions, such as wells, conservation agriculture and training, have been implemented within Simalaha to help the farmers maximise their yield and produce healthier crops all year round.
This farmer can now grow various crops such as spinach, maize, tomatoes and cabbage, enabling him to put food on the table and sell any excess at the local markets. Both the cabbage and spinach that he is growing have been bought from the local agri-hub, which aims to create sustainable models of commercial horticulture and grain production for farmers within Simalaha. Apart from providing training in farming, the agri-hub also enables local farmers to sell seedlings to other farmers in the area.
Paving The Way
Thanks to dedicated conservation efforts from Peace Parks Foundation, their generous donors, partners and, of course, the dedication of the people here, Simalaha is now paving the way forward with successful community-led approaches to conservation. This allows food security within the region and improved livelihood opportunities, all the while reducing the pressure on the natural environment.