Rome/Zambia - 30 January 2003 - A Conservation Agriculture project in Zambia, managed by FAO, has distributed seeds, fertilizers and tools to about 60 000 farm families. The project also trained farmers in conservation agriculture. An additional 2 000 farmers are being assisted in seed multiplication, to improve seeds locally and increase incomes.
Conservation Agriculture (CA) aims to conserve, improve and make more efficient use of natural resources through integrated management of available soil, water and biological resources combined with external inputs. It contributes to environmental conservation as well as to enhanced and sustained agricultural production.
Yields in conservation agriculture, even in drier areas, are often higher than yields achieved in traditional farming. Average yields amounted to around 3 metric tonnes per hectare. Compared to maize imported as food aid, which costs around $400 per metric tonne, the potential value of the conservation agriculture project is estimated at around $18 million.
Through this initiative, Zambia saved expenses for food aid imports. In addition, through the introduction of legumes, crops were diversified and nutrition could be improved. Vulnerable farming households became more self-reliant. Farmers can sell surpluses to raise additional income.
In the western province of Zambia, where the soils are not suited to conservation farming, FAO is managing a project focusing on distribution of cassava cuttings to over 1 300 households, along with extension advice on post-harvest processing.
FAO's activities are funded by the Governments of Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK.
Implementing partners include CARE, the Conservation Farming Unit, Cooperative League of the USA, Land Management and Conservation Farming, Programme Against Malnutrition, and World Vision. Season monitoring is being carried out in collaboration with NGOs and the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
For further information please contact:
Regional Emergency Coordinator for southern Africa
Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation Division
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Tel: +254.733600159 (mobile through Kenya) or +27.115171634