There are 600,000 small-scale farms and 5,000,000 people in Zambia who grow barely enough food to survive.
Zambia has one of the lowest life expectancy in the world at just 63 years old.
Zambia imports 70% of the food needed to feed its people.
This initiative will change the mindset of the small-scale farmer from growing a single crop (traditionally maize) to growing a diversified group of products including maize, cowpeas, tomatoes, honey, and chickens. It protects the farmer from disaster if one product fails and creates year-round income for the farm. We call this group of products the farmer’s Market Basket.
PIA has launched the Zambia Poverty Lab, with the core focus of product diversification.
Zambia Country Manager
We have engaged a Zambia Country Manager to oversee all aspects of the poverty lab which include financial oversight, value chain structure, and consulting on crop selection and development. With the country manger providing ongoing expert assistance this will help to ensure the famer is successful in reaching their project goals.
The farmer will receive ongoing training on improved farming techniques, water conservation and farm management. As each new product is added to the farmer’s Market Basket, the farmer will receive training on how to successfully grow the new product.
To insure a “income guarantee” never before available, we have created a cooperative group of 64 small scale farmers. This cooperative structure enables us to negotiate pricing for purchasing farm inputs and selling farm outputs.
In 2021 the Poverty Lab will be entering year two in the Namwala Region of Zambia.
The primary crop in 2021 will be Cowpeas. Cowpeas require a smaller investment in input costs, have a shorter growing season, and have a higher market sales price. in year 2 the Poverty Lab farmers will grow one hectare (2.5 ac) of Cowpeas.
Each farmer receives a zero interest loan when they join The Poverty Lab.
The loan is provided as crop inputs, not cash.
The primary goal of The Poverty Lab is to grow farmer’s income through a diverse set of farming products.
Once the farmers receive the seed, fertilizers, and pesticides needed for their 2.5 acre lot, the Poverty Lab farm monitors visit each farm monthly to assess their progress and provide ongoing training.
Ongoing monitoring of the farms allows us an opportunity to journey with our farmers, as they journey from extreme poverty to food security, and crop marketability. Continuous communication and training allows us to respond quickly to environmental changes or external threats, like pests, that might otherwise have caused our farmers entire crop failure.
We have also invested in five model farms.
These are sites run by local farmers that have proven to operate with the highest level of farm management.
The model farmers program provides a the perfect trial and training ground.
These farmers are answering 2 critical questions:
Each farmer will grow crops as follows:
1 ha cowpeas
½ ha maize
¼ ha ground nuts
1. We are able to evaluate the crops best suited to rural Zambia and the ability of a farm to produce income.
This includes future training in lessons learned and best practices.
2. Model farmers will provide Leadership and expertise to expand the Model Farm program.
It is also expected that the Model Farmers will become leaders of local Cooperatives that will be established for 2022 to enable PIA to work with Zambia Government Programs that provide farm inputs to Cooperatives throughout Zambia.
By diversifying the crops farmers are receiving it helps them to increase their income even during the off seasons.
Farmers are overseen by our management staff, as well as given training on how to farm more effectively.
By helping farming families grow their harvest we are able to measure success in taking them from food insecure to market ready.