In Zambia’s Simalaha Community Conservancy, Peace Parks Foundation’s Chief Development Officer, Lilian Spijkerman and Senior Project Manager, Arrie van Wyk are showing a visiting group from DOB Ecology some of the commercial agriculture projects that Peace Parks’ is involved in. Today, they are joined by other members from the Foundation and get a warm welcome of song and dance from the Sooka Community before learning more about the new agri-hub project.
In a new pilot project, Peace Parks Foundation has teamed up with Argentinean agronomist, Diego Cerrudo, to oversee the new agri-hub project, which aims to create sustainable models of commercial horticulture and grain production for farmers within Simalaha.
Commercial agriculture projects have been developed to address and overcome some of the major challenges that farmers face, which include limited market access, difficulty acquiring farming materials, and inadequate training. A large part of Diego’s role is to train the community farmers on all aspects of an agriculture project, including irrigation, greenhouse farming and learning how to meet consumer demands in the marketplace.
It is fascinating to see just how far this project has come in such a short space of time. A few weeks ago, Simalaha’s Conservancy Assistant, Brian Mulomba, took us with him to see how the beginning phases of the greenhouse construction were taking shape. Today, that greenhouse is already producing and selling seedling such as Swiss chard, tomatoes, cabbage and chilis. The next phase of the project is to plant a large volume of crops such as onions and grains in the prepared fields outside, the produce of which will also be sold in markets across the country.
As farmers are now able to grow a variety of crops and have the knowledge of what to produce and when, the profit made from these new commercial agriculture projects will help the communities to put food on their table, send their children to school, get access to healthcare as well as help to create economic security.