Special initiative ONE WORLD – No Hunger

Green innovation centre Zambia

Zambia: Harison und Sarah Mbao are partners of COMACO (Community Markets for Conservation). The not-for-profit organisation buys up the peanut harvest of smallholder farmer families at a fair price.

The staple food for people in Zambia is maize. Vegetables, other kinds of cereal and fruit hardly ever feature in the diet. This has serious consequences: 40 per cent of the population suffer from deficiencies because of their unbalanced diet. Furthermore, much of the soil is impoverished and infertile due to the exclusive cultivation of maize. The green innovation centre in Zambia wants to use soy, peanuts and milk as one way of counteracting the maize monoculture and unbalanced diets.

What is so innovative?

Peanuts taken from the field to the shop: The non-profit company Comaco (Community Markets for Conservation) buys the peanut harvest from smallholder families, roasts the nuts or processes them into butter and supplies them to shops. The more environmentally friendly the production process, the more money the farmers receive for their harvest.

Own-brand yoghurt: Dairy farming cooperatives are processing part of the milk they receive into yoghurt drinks, and developing their own brand. The product is already available in various different flavours.

A small tree with a large impact: Over the next few years, 27,000 smallholders in the east of Zambia will be planting gliricidia trees on their fields. This low-growing tree supplies the soil with nitrogen and its leaves make good fertiliser. This means it can make impoverished soils fertile again and it also provides shade from the sun for peanut and soy plants.

Our objectives

  • To increase income for 70,000 smallholders by 25 per cent
  • To create 350 new jobs
  • To provide education and training for 100,000 smallholders

Routes to success

From early in the morning, about 20 men stand outside the gates of the Comaco food processing factory in the commercial zone of the city of Chipata, in the east of Zambia. They are waiting for a job. Almost every day, there are lorries full of sacks of soy or peanuts to unload. The almost 80 permanent employees working in production cannot manage that alone. "We pay a good third more than the minimum wage", says Chisanga Shula, the production manager.

On the edge of the country’s second largest wildlife park, the non-profit company Comaco supports smallholders in agricultural activities that are compatible with protecting plants and animals. The food factory processes produce from around 20,000 farmers. This has improved the diet of smallholder families and almost tripled their incomes.

Comaco sells the produce under its own brand-name "It’s wild", including to the country’s two main supermarket chains where Zambia’s growing middle class shops. The peanut butter in particular is very popular here. "In order to meet the rapidly growing demand, we need to urgently invest in more efficient production methods", explains Chisanga Shula. The green innovation centre is helping them with this and also with training measures for new groups of farmers.

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