Improving Zambian farming practices

Many communities in Zambia’s rural areas depend entirely on rain, rather than irrigation, for their crops and have poor access to seeds and fertilisers. There are high incidences of pest and diseases in crops and livestock, and farming infrastructure is limited. This program aims to improve crop yields and livestock management, and achieve food security.

Goats in Zambia

About the program

Previously this program operated in the Mphunza area of Zambia. With the Mphunza community now able to take ownership of their activities, Caritas Australia has – with support from our local partner and the Mphunza community – moved the program to Mbwindi.

A Zambian woman with her fruit crop

Mbwindi farms are mainly small scale, with an average of around 5 hectares per household. The main crop is maize, however farmers also grow groundnuts, soya beans, sunflowers and vegetables, and keep livestock such as cattle, goats, pigs and chickens. Literacy rates are very low in Mbwindi. There are few NGOs operating in the area.

The primary aims of the program are to improve crop yields and livestock management, and restore and maintain the soil fertility. The program promotes conservation farming, agroforestry, winter irrigation and livestock management. Women’s participation is a priority for the program. Activities at the diocese level ensure there is equal participation of women and men in activities conducted.

The program is helping small-scale farmers achieve food security by providing them with maize, beans and groundnuts. As well as teaching them improved agricultural techniques to increase soil fertility and crop production. The program also provides training in agriculture marketing skills and methods of grain storage. Storing produce correctly increases grain quality, leading to greater profit and better food security. A new communal grain storage shelter has been built. Farmers contribute a certain percentage of their harvest to the store, and the shed acts as a focal point where farmers can meet to collaborate and receive training and adult literacy classes.

Thanks to the program, 250 households have acquired water pumps for their crops through a loans scheme, agricultural production has increased and more children in the community are now attending school. Traditional birth attendants have also been trained to assist and educate the community in antenatal care.

Program details

  • Issues: Water and sanitation, Food security and agriculture; Health
  • Partner Agency: Caritas Chipata
  • Funding in 2014/15 financial year: US $60,000
  • Geographic location: Mbwindi in the diocese of Chipata
  • When established: 2002 (for the first 8 years of the project, Caritas Chipata was working in Mwbindi)