The Luangwa Community Forests Project (LCFP) and Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project (LZRP) extend across both Eastern and Lusaka Provinces. The two projects encompass communities that are among those worst impacted by poverty as well as low and erratic rainfall in Zambia. One of the fundamental objectives of the REDD+ strategy to forest conservation is to contribute significantly to the reduction in nutrition insecurity within the areas of implementation.
Over the last few months, BCP, in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, have trained 110 Lead Farmers within the LCFP and LZRP project area. The trained Lead Farmers are part of the conservation farming livelihood initiative that is aimed at increasing food security and improving nutrition for the project beneficiaries. On average, we expect the 110 Lead Farmers to cascade their knowledge to Follow Farmers and reach approximately 660 Farmers and 3,960 beneficiaries in total. These new Lead Farmers are taught how to farm organically using climate smart farming techniques that avoid chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and growth regulators that are not only costly to farmers but are also known to have a harmful effect on the environment.
Organic farming systems rely on a number of innovative techniques including crop rotation, crop residues, animal manures, green manure, and bio fertilizers. Mr. Nafitali Shawa is one of BCP’s successful Lead Farmers within Kamutu Village in Sandwe Chiefdom (LCFP) who is practicing organic farming. He utilizes crop rotation and a technique called “Stover Management” which involves the use of retaining leaves and stalks on a field after harvesting as a form of organic fertilizer instead of burning.
In addition to these common practices, Mr. Shawa and his wife, Telesa Banda, enhance their soil fertility through the addition of cow manure from their herd of cattle. Organic farmers build healthy soils by nourishing the living components of the soil that release, transform, and transfer nutrients. Soil that has been organically nourished has a better soil structure and a greater capacity for water retention.
Mr. Shawa’s 2019/2020 harvest season has been distinctively productive without the use of any chemical fertilizers. He planted 10kg of hybrid maize seed which yielded 60 x 50kg bags of maize! Through crop rotation, Mr. Shawa also planted 30kgs of soya beans from which he was able to harvest 21 x 50kg bags. During the same season, Mr. Shawa planted 10kgs of groundnuts and was able to harvest 15 x 50kg bags unshelled.
By using climate smart farming techniques, Mr. Shawa has been able to support his family with food for a whole year, while still producing excess crops for sale. Through the sales, Mr. Shawa has been able to send his two children to school as well as purchase a Smart phone for his Grade 12 son to complete eLearning during Covid-19 pandemic.
Our hope is to support at least 34% of our project households within the next 3 years by improving agricultural techniques that result in increased food security and general quality of life.