The majority of the Zambia's poor reside in the rural areas and approximately 60 percent are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. Agriculture also remains by far the main opportunity for income and employment for women who comprise 65 per cent of the rural population.
The Zambian government also considers agriculture as one of the most important sources of economic growth in the country. Sector growth has been slow. The majority of the 800,000 small scale farmers who depend on agriculture for their livelihood have also met tremendous challenges in dealing with the new dispensation of economic liberalisation.
This context provides great impetus for SCC work in the area of sustainable agricultural production, food security and local level business development. SCC has focused its work in Zambia in this area since 1997.
Organic Agriculture and Sustainable Livelihoods: This project which is implemented in collaboration with KATC is aimed at improving food security and income among small scale farmers in Chongwe district, East of Lusaka, through broadening the scope in use of sustainable agriculture practices. Major interventions of the project are focused on training and field extension including study circles. The project aims to reach 4,800 small scale farmers in Chongwe district during 2006-2008.
Technologies promoted by KATC are focussed on low external input agriculture and sustainable production systems. Farmers benefit from this production system in four ways: less input costs, increased soil productivity and higher yields, diversified farming which also mitigates drought, as well as the positive effect on the environment. Joint action is also promoted through groups and associations. Eco-Marketing Project
The project is implemented in collaboration with OPPAZ and is aimed at enabling organic farmers and wild harvesters increase their income. The focus is on training, including study circles, so that farmers can meet the market standards for organically produced products, and to facilitate access to both local and international markets. The project aims to reach over 3,000 organic farmers and wild harvesters by the end of 2008. The intervention will contribute to improved skills and enable rural people to reap the benefits of organic farming through increased returns on their production.
Market Facilitation Project
The project is implemented in collaboration with ZNFU. The aim is to improve income for small scale members in four district farmer associations in Southern and Eastern Zambia. The main thrust is to strengthen the farmers associations, so that they become strong actors in the market place. This will be achieved by enhancing access to marketing information, improving farmers' production skills through training including study circles, and encouraging joint marketing through local structures. The aim is to reach 8,000 farmers. Focusing on farming as a business, small scale farmers' benefits will include better returns on their production, increased diversification and improved capacity to mitigate against drought.
SCC has been working in Zambia for more than two decades, focusing mainly on the agriculture sector. Evaluations have shown that the interventions have helped farmers to move from awareness to empowerment. During 2006-2008, SCC will phase out support to KATC and two of the district farmer associations. Efforts are therefore focused on creating greater sustainability to ensure that the work continues once SCC pulls out. SCC is also investigating to what extent the organisation can play a role in our other priority sectors, such as adequate housing.