Conservation Farming and Saving Wildlife

Zambia

We’re working with an outstanding Zambian company to support conservation farming and save precious wildlife. As an alternative livelihood to poaching, Conservation for Community Markets (COMACO) partners with traditional leaders, communities, and farmer cooperatives to provide support, skills and a market for farmers’ products.  COMACO, a non-profit Zambian company, is providing our Lifeplayer MP3s and Prime radios to deliver information on conservation farming and wildlife preservation.

Currently, there are more than 140,000 COMACO-registered farmers in the Eastern Province.  If their smallholder farms were combined, it would be the largest farm in Zambia.  That gives an idea of the scale at which they work.

How Farmers are Turning from Poaching

Listening group leader, Mabel, and the farmers

Over the past 15 years, COMACO’s work has expanded across much of Zambia’s vast Luangwa Valley. The valley is under severe threat from illegal wildlife poaching and deforestation, which supports some of the largest elephant and carnivore populations in Southern Africa. Many farmers once poached to supplement their household incomes. To date, they have surrendered more than 2,400 firearms and 80,000 snares and there have been numerous arrests of wildlife criminals reported by COMACO farmers.

Farm Talk Radio and Breeze FM

Access to information is the key to raising farmer incomes. Farm Talk is a weekly farming radio show which is broadcast in the local language, Nyanja, on Chipata-based Breeze FM. Farm Talk radio programmes are central to COMACO’s solution of teaching small-scale farmers how to farm sustainably and adopt conservation methods. If farmers are able to consistently generate enough income from farming, they stop poaching and other environmentally destructive practices such as charcoal production.

COMACO buys crops from their registered farmers at slightly above market rates.  Many crops are then processed and sold in Zambian supermarkets under the It’s Wild brand.  Premium products include peanut butter, rice, dried mangoes, honey and soy.

A Sustainable Future for the Luangwa Valley

COMACO-registered farmers are experiencing the positive impact of farming sustainably. Poaching has been abandoned as a livelihood and numbers of wildlife species, like elephants, are increasing. Providing Lifeplayer MP3 units will extend Farm Talk’s reach in areas with poor FM reception. This enables COMACO to scale their skills training and education programmes, and ensure not only the ecological health of the Luangwa Valley, but provide sustainable, secure incomes for the people living there.

Lifeline’s radios are making a profound and positive impact on our farmer groups as they build on an existing deep radio culture. They help us ensure that all farmers hear and learn the same information to boost their incomes and alleviate hunger.

Dale Lewis
Founder and President, COMACO, Zambia