Improving community livelihoods has become a very important prerequisite in sustainable forest management. In Zambia, several non-governmental organizations are working tirelessly to improve community livelihoods with the hope of reducing deforestation and forest degradation.
BCP, through it’s USAID funded CFP project, has partnered with the Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO) to extend its conservation-minded livelihoods initiatives to its project area for households around Rufunsa Conservancy.
“We are here in Rufunsa through a good partnership that exists between us and BCP who are currently implementing a REDD+ project in this area,” explains Lloyd Mambwe, COMACO area Manager for Rufunsa.
COMACO is an agri-business company that targets small scale farmers across large rural landscapes providing markets, skills and incentives to help farmers sustain a better life from their land, to adapt to climate change and reduce drivers and primary causes of deforestation and soil degradation. COMACO has pioneered building commercial links between small-scale farmers and conservation and currently works with about 100,000 farmers across Luangwa Valley ecosystem.
The beginning of this long term relationship started with a series of initial meetings in mid-August in all four project zones to identify participating farmers and select Lead Farmers.”This training has brought together our lead farmers and BCP’s lead farmers from Bunda Bunda chiefdom from areas surrounding BCP’s REDD+ Project Zone and introduce them to the extension part of the COMACO model and Sustainable Agricultural farming practices such as Conservation Agriculture and Composting,” explains Mr. Mambwe.
The meetings also provided an opportunity for knowledge sharing among various stakeholders from the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, COMACO and how these institutions could help the new farmers in Bunda-Bunda achieve results to support both their livelihoods and conservation of their natural resources.Following these initial community meetings and farmer selection in August, 16 Lead Farmers from all four zones were trained by COMACO in conservation farming on September 17th – 18th at Kaunga Agriculture Training Centre (KATC).
The purpose of the training was to introduce the farmers to the COMACO conservation farming model intervention and associated value chain.
Each Lead Farmer was asked to recruit a total of sixty farmers from their respective areas. COMACO and BCP hope to roll out its entire model in the Lower Zambezi REDD+ Project(LZRP) Zone as part of the USAID funded Community Forests Program(CFP) over the next three (3) years; intensifying production and linking farmers to markets through the It’s Wild! Brand, focusing especially on honey, groundnuts, and possibly village chicken production. A grant agreement between BCP and COMACO funding this program has been forwarded to USAID for approval.