Lusaka. January 19, 2012.
LUSAKA – Increasing smallholder farmers’ access to agricultural markets improves household incomes and nutrition, as well as Zambia’s economy as a whole. With this aim, the United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), joins OLAM International, Wildlife Conservation Society, General Mills, and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in the Better Life Alliance. Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO), a Zambian non-profit company, will implement the Better Life Alliance.
USAID will invest $6.5 million in the Better Life Alliance to expand COMACO’s work linking smallholder farmers with agricultural markets while promoting conservation farming. USAID’s partnership in the Alliance will enable COMACO to extend its outreach from 15,000 to 40,000 farming households, primarily in Zambia’s Eastern Province.
“Market-driven agricultural development is essential to sustainably improve household food security in Zambia. USAID’s partnership will show more Zambian farmers how to access markets, obtain market prices for their crops, and improve their farming practices so they can better their lives and advance Zambia’s economic growth,” noted USAID/Zambia Mission Director Dr. Susan K. Brems.
USAID’s investment will improve COMACO’s agricultural extension services and help farmers obtain inputs, like fertilizer and pesticides. USAID funding will also allow COMACO to train more farmers in conservation farming techniques and offer more farmers incentives to use sustainable farming practices. The services, inputs, incentives, market access, and market prices will all contribute to increasing farmers’ incomes while building COMACO’s capacity as a local food-processing and agro-marketing non-profit company.
USAID’s contribution to the Better Life Alliance is part of the U.S. Feed the Future Initiative’s planned $90 million investment in agricultural development and improved nutrition in Zambia over the next five years. Feed the Future Initiative investments aim to raise 200,000 Zambian households out of poverty.