Civil Society Environment Fund helps farmers in Zambia

Representatives from CSEF 2 visited Rhoida's farm to understand how she has used the skills in organic agriculture to transform her livelihood.

Rhoida Salimu is a 48-year-old mother of six, who lives in a village called Mwalubemba in Chongwe District of the Republic of Zambia, where the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland (MFA) is supporting a project focused on improved environment and natural resource management through the promotion of sustainable organic agriculture and other sustainable technologies and practices.

The project is training and equipping 100 small-scale farmers in Chongwe District with the knowledge and skills in sustainable agriculture and other sustainable practices, whilst also developing a supportive model to promote Sustainable Organic Agriculture (SOA) more broadly in Zambia. The two-year initiative is managed on behalf of the MFA by PMTC (Zambia) Ltd, which is working in consortium with Ecorys UK and the Kasisi Agriculture Training Centre.

Rhoida is among the 100 selected farmers in Chongwe District who are benefiting from support. During a recent monitoring visit by project representatives, Rhoida explained that before she joined the Civil Society Environment Fund, Phase 2 (CSEF2) project, she had numerous economic problems.

“I had problems sending my children to school before the CSEF 2 project started,” she said. “My husband who is a school driver could not manage to sustainably educate and feed the entire household. As a result our children could not go to school because of lack of school fees”.

Financial security

The project promotes the technologies and land use practices associated with sustainable crop and vegetable production. By encouraging innovation in agricultural practices, farmers can secure greater livelihoods while restoring soil fertility, and reducing environmental degradation. 

 “The CSEF 2 project taught us how to grow sustainable organic vegetables, record keeping, and marketing and how to determine profit and loss,” Rhoida said.

“The project also provided us with access to a 40 by 30 metre plot, on which we have been rotating vegetables, of minimum 5 types per round. Together with my fellow project beneficiaries, we have been selling vegetables from these plots for seven months now.

“On a daily basis I have been realising between ZMW 300 to 1,000 extra income from these vegetables. With the record keeping, profit and loss and banking trainings, we have managed to clear all our household problems, including paying for school fees and even the purchase of a vehicle for our family. The car has been helping with transport to the market, and sometimes we also use it as a taxi to raise additional income.”

Innovative environment

Rhoida’s story demonstrates how the use of sustainable environmental techniques and technologies, can turn into a real household income, and livelihood assets, such as her family’s new vehicle.  In turn, this provides opportunities for people to pursue even greater incomes, to be more innovative and to take some risks, without the fear of those risks leaving a household in greater difficulty.

“The CSEF 2 project has really opened my eyes with regards to organic agriculture; and household improvement. We are thankful to the MFA of Finland for providing us with assistance through the CSEF 2 project. Our appeal is that the MFA should continue supporting us to enable us to master the skills of organic agriculture and also to include other community members in the project,” said Rhoida.

CSEF 2 hopes that inspiring stories like that of Rhoida, and the work of Kasisi Agriculture Training Centre in developing a workable model for Sustainable Organic Agriculture in Zambia will contribute to meeting sustainable development goals in Zambia.

The CSEF 2 project is just one of the projects being managed by Ecorys UK’s International Development Team which can share experience to make real impact in the agricultural sector in other countries and regions. The project can also show key stakeholders about the potential value of the organic agriculture system, and support decision and policy makers to consider including Sustainable Organic Agriculture in their future agricultural policies.

For more information on international projects and services from Ecorys UK, visit the International Development pages on our website.