Farmers in Chongwe, Zambia, are reverting to traditional techniques and green farming methods to promote sustainable agriculture in Zambia. Chongwe’s farming communities are experiencing low crop yields due to unpredictable precipitation patterns and decreased soil fertility.
According to a 2010 report by Zambia’s government and the United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD), the following practices significantly impact agriculture in Chongwe:
- Deforestation due to charcoal and wood fuel production
- Logging for timber
- Expanding small-scale and unsustainable agricultural practices
Most farmers in Zambia focus on monocropping, but delayed payments and poor yields have forced inhabitants to rely on charcoal burning and trading to make ends meet. These methods result in erosion and desertification, locking Zambia into a perpetual cycle of poverty and environmental degradation.
The Green Entrepreneurship Project trains and empowers farmers to undertake sustainable farming practices. These practices combat land degradation and increase crop productivity. The Dutch organization HIVOS coordinated the project with Kasisi Agricultural Training Center, the Dairy Association of Zambia and Micro Bankers Trust.
The Green Entrepreneurship Project aims to promote:
- Integration of agroforestry
- Dairy farming
- Clean energy
- Microfinance provision
The Green Entrepreneurship Project hopes to encourage farmers to practice sustainable farming, which would improve their productivity and incomes. Agroforestry improves crop yields, soil cover and water retention. Farmer-managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) allows trees that grow naturally to be retained and pruned so that farmers benefit from a shelter for their crops, better soil conditions and erosion control.
The collaboration between the Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock has resulted in nine agricultural camps utilizing conservation farming. Conservation farming decreases dependence on chemical fertilizer and pesticides while increasing access to the organic market.
Chongwe’s growing middle class and proximity to Lusaka means that farmers can supply organically grown crops and animals to a reliable market. The Green Entrepreneurship Project was started in 2013 and is currently implemented in Kanakantapa, Kasenga, Mpango, Njolwe and Chinkuli areas of the Chongwe district.
Over 180 farmers have received training for sustainable agriculture in Zambia. Farmers who receive training become eligible for loans, and the majority of loan recipients go into dairy farming.
Sustainable agriculture in Zambia and creating green entrepreneurs may be the first steps in ending the country’s cycle of poverty and environmental decline.
– Carolyn Gibson