Promoting agricultural entrepreneurship among rural youth in Zambia

Project

 

Youth

Zambia has great potential to become a breadbasket in Southern Africa, owing to its vast fertile land and abundant water resources, however, of the 58% of land suitable for agricultural production, only 14% is under cultivation. Small-scale farm production in Zambia is often not sufficient to cover basic household nutritional needs and, even if farmers do produce a surplus that can be sold, they find it difficult to market their produce due to poor market linkages. As a result, agriculture is not seen as a profitable enterprise among the youth, and with limited employment alternatives in rural areas, many move to urban areas.

Aims

Zambia has great potential to become a breadbasket in Southern Africa, owing to its vast fertile land and abundant water resources, however, of the 58% of land suitable for agricultural production, only 14% is under cultivation. Small-scale farm production in Zambia is often not sufficient to cover basic household nutritional needs and, even if farmers do produce a surplus that can be sold, they find it difficult to market their produce due to poor market linkages. As a result, agriculture is not seen as a profitable enterprise among the youth, and with limited employment alternatives in rural areas, many move to urban areas.

To spark young people’s interest and passion in agriculture and harness Zambia’s agricultural potential, the Development Aid from People to People (DAPP) is implementing the Climate Smart Agriculture and Entrepreneurship for Young Farmers Clubs Project. The aim is to strengthen the capacity of 300 young farmers from the Chibombo region to become more business oriented and develop their capacities in organic farming.

Approach

Through the project, barriers to rural youth in agriculture will be tackled by increasing their capacities in agri-business, agro-processing, and marketing to expand their economic opportunities. The project will support Chibombo’s youth’s engagement in the agricultural sector by providing technical skills training, agricultural extension assistance, access to finance and business development service linkages. Specific activities will be carried out to promote entrepreneurship, including linking Farmers’ Clubs to the private sector, and mentoring and by older, more experienced farmers. The youth will be grouped in 30 farmer clubs that will be turned into cooperatives.

The project is based on DAPP’s Farmers’ Club model which mobilises and trains small-scale farmers to improve land and livestock farming methods; supports value chain development; promotes climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies; and organises farmers to improve their marketing. The model, which has been tailored to meet young people’s interests and needs, provides each group – or ‘club’ – with a tablet containing a farming curriculum specifically designed for Zambia. During meetings and training sessions, club members use the tablet to learn together with the support of a DAPP facilitator and extension officer from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.

Activities

The project, from June 2016 to December 2018, will:

  • Train Farmers Club members in leadership, governance, group dynamics and facilitation skills.
  • Train young people in climate-smart practices to improve crop production, with particular attention to soya, groundnuts and Moringa.
  • Train young farmers in processing and marketing of soya, groundnut and Moringa.
  • Establish demonstration gardens, field schools and model nurseries.
  • Establish a ‘pass-on’ system for soya or groundnut seeds, so that after the first year each young farmer passes seed on to four more.
  • Provide finance education, including saving and budgeting training.
  • Link Farmers’ Clubs with input suppliers.
  • Establish savings groups in each Farmers’ Club to enable members to provide each other with.
  • Conduct open days and food fairs – as part of the Proud to be Rural campaign – to promote increased participation in agriculture to a wider number of young people.

Impact

  • Capacity of young farmers to learn and support one another will improve.
  • Business managerial skills of young farmers will increase.
  • Climate-smart agricultural production among target young farmers will increase and diversify.
  • Knowledge of and access to financial products, private sector inputs and markets among target young farmers will increase.
  • Capacity among target young farmers to process and market agriculture commodities will be improved.

Up to October 2017, 10 Farmers Clubs were established and each has been provided with a small petrol pump for irrigation as well as to power a multipurpose processing machine for soya, groundnut and fruit. Six of these Clubs successfully registered as multi-purpose cooperatives. Several training sessions were organised and the clubs have successfully produced various crops.

The savings made by the 10 Farmers Clubs have enabled members to purchase agricultural inputs, which have strengthened their financial asset base and helped diversify income-generating activities.