Africa News & Features

11 November 2009 

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Irrigation Helps Zambian Farmers Boost Food Production

10 November 2009

There’s strength in numbers, at least for 150 of Chanyanya’s farmers who've formed a cooperative.  The group has leased part of their land to InfraCo, a company specializing in agricultural infrastructure like trenches and electric pumps to draw water from the nearby Kafue River for irrigation.
Chinyanya maize farm
Chinyanya farmers report improved maize yields

InfraCo also provides seeds, fertilizers and basic management to the farmers, who own about a quarter of the 60 irrigated hectares. They grow maize, wheat, vegetables, and soybeans for their families and sell what’s left on the domestic market.
InfraCo uses the rest of the irrigated land for commercial farming for export. Profits are invested back into the project.

“We expect [it to benefit] the community [with money for] healthcare and education. Of the profits that we get, we will plough 20% back to expand our project, then the other 20% we shall plough back into the community -- building a high school, providing healthcare services, whatever. Then 60% will go in our pockets," says Maurice Hikapulwe area councilor for Chikupi ward in Chanyanya.

Members of the Chinyanya Cooperative
Members of the Chinyanya cooperative

According to Hikapulwe, the initiative has helped rural communities around Chanyanya village become self-reliant. InfraCo hopes to replicate the project, which started in Zambia last year, in other parts of Africa.

The effort is popular among residents of Chanyanya and other surrounding villages, such as Chainsi and Chikupi, according to Chrispine Mvula, the  manager of the Chanyanya Smallholders Society. 

“People are very happy because they have seen [something new]. They have enough maize to last them through the year. So, [the need] for food relief from the government is history now, for this community," explains Myula.

Members of the cooperative with irrigation equipment
Cooperative farmers with new irrigation equipment

Once all the invested capital and machinery is repaid to InfaCo, the farmers will own the company. After 20 years of growing and selling crops on the land the farmers were not using, InfraCo will have paid for all the equipment and provided the working capital for both the commercial and co-operative sides of the project.

InfraCo is a donor-funded company specializing in infrastructure development in Africa and South Asia. It helps to encourage private sector iinvestment in nfrastructure projects by providing financial support for much of the initial costs of early development.




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