In Zambia’s Chongwe district, approximately 45 kilometres east of the capital city Lusaka, smallholder agriculture is under threat due to the wanton cutting down of trees and unpredictable rainfall patterns. In 2005 and 2006, survey results revealed that up to 30 per cent of the bare land in Chongwe district has resulted from deforestation by charcoal?makers.
Due to its proximity to the city, the area is a prime source of firewood used as an energy source by many Lusaka dwellers. The frequent disruptions of electrical power supply in the capital feed the insatiable demand for firewood. It is estimated that the capital consumes 45,000 tonnes of charcoal per year.
To make matters worse, the district has continued to experience high poverty levels. Few people in the district have access to agricultural implements and inputs such as seed or fertilizer among others. In addition, there is a lack of educational and health services, sanitation facilities and safe drinking water, a huge impediment to development.
This is compounded by changing rainfall patterns, in which alarmingly regular dry spells reduce yields, making farming even less sustainable as an economic activity
Against this background, Hivos in partnership with Grassroots Trust, a community organisation that specialises in climate smart low cost technologies, recently conducted training for 60 farmers from the Chongwe Green Society.
“The purpose of the training was to enable farmers to acquire skills in increasing productivity in the face of climate variations that have affected the ecosystems in the District. Hivos has a niche in the agricultural sector with the promotion of sustainable food to increase adoption of agro-ecological practices. I am impressed by the overwhelming response of the farmers, with a number of them ready to reform their production systems,” said Welsely Wakunuma, Hivos Southern Africa Hub’s Project Manager in Zambia.
The project has an overall objective of helping reduce poverty levels amongst low income households through increased access to financial services and technology. The project is targeting 400 smallholder farmers in Chongwe focusing on dairy, horticulture and renewable energy.
According to the FAO, climate smart farming techniques can increase farm productivity and incomes and make agriculture more resilient to climate change. Climate smart agriculture is an integrative approach that addresses the interlinked challenges of food security and climate change.
The climate smart agriculture concept was first developed by the FAO in 2010 and now enjoys wide ownership among governments, regional and international agencies, civil society and the private sector. It addresses all aspects that are relevant to climate change and food security both on farms and beyond, and incorporates technologies, policies, institutions and investments.