The Miombo woodland ecosystem is characterised by a two-storey vegetation type with a tree height averaging between 15 to 20 meters. Covering about 40% of Zambia, Miombo is characterised by various species of Brachystegia, Julbernadia and Isoberlinia that form a light but closed canopy over a forest floor vegetation dominated by Hyparrhenia and Digitaria. The standing volume of dry matter in the above ground vegetation is estimated to be about 90 tonnes per ha under undisturbed woodland conditions, equivalent to approximately 20 tonnes of carbon per ha. The fauna includes a large variety of woodland savannah species, such as common reedbuck, puku, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, sable antelope, roan antelope, defassa waterbuck, sitatunga, oribi and eland. The woodlands are also rich in medicinal species, and collection of mushrooms, edible caterpillars and wild honey is a common practice.
The soils of the Miombo woodlands are predominantly Acrisols. The soils have good internal drainage characteristics, but are very low in organic matter contents (typically around 1% organic C in surface layers and half of this in lower horizons when under cultivation). Soil acidity is often as low as pH4, and both base saturation and cation exchange capacity are low. Aluminium toxicity is widespread and there tends to be strong fixation of phosphates as well as deficiencies of zinc, molybdenum, sulphur and copper.
Traditionally, farmers have coped with the problems of acidity and nutrient deficiency through the use of slash-and-burn cultivation systems, particularly chitemene. Under the chitemene system, the vegetation from between 2 and 3 ha is cut and piled on a 0.3 to 0.4 ha plot, where it is burnt. This raises the pH typically to about pH5.2. Crops are then planted in the ash-enriched soil, which can be kept under cultivation for 3 to 5 years, after which the burnt areas, if left undisturbed, revert to bush fallow over the next 20 to 25 years. A typical cropping pattern includes finger millet and maize during the first season, beans and groundnuts in the second season, and cassava and sweet potatoes interplanted with beans in the third season. Yields are below 1 tonne per ha of maize or finger millet in the first year after burning and decline progressively. Higher yields are obtained when supplementary inorganic fertilisers are applied, but these do little to prolong the cropping period because of increasing soil acidity as the neutralising effects of ash diminish.
The chitemene system and its variants have been successful in meeting the subsistence requirements of low-density populations (up to 4 persons per sq. km.) and can be regarded as sustainable in the absence of population growth. However, the rapid rise in population in relatively accessible areas is resulting in a shortening of fallow periods, a progressive decline in soil fertility and a degradation of the forest cover. In areas within reach of the road and rail network, the natural woodland ecosystems are falling under the additional pressures exerted by a growing demand for charcoal, the principal cooking fuel used in both rural and urban areas. Other major issues affecting the integrity of the Miombo woodland ecosystem are non-sustainable hunting practices, poaching in protected areas, and the uncontrolled use of fire. Although not as vulnerable to fire as the drier, more open savannah woodlands of southern Zambia, fire frequently destroys patches of Miombo vegetation as well as biomass remaining on agricultural fields in the dry season.
Over the past 5 years, considerable experience has been gained in Zambia in the development and application of various approaches to reduce land degradation. Common to most of these approaches is their emphasis on improved tillage and land husbandry practices directed at increased sustainability of agricultural land use but also at raising farmers’ incomes. As land available for slash-and-burn agriculture has become increasingly scarce and soil fertility has declined, there is growing evidence that farmers are considering alternatives to slash-and-burn agriculture. Many farmers in eastern Zambia have recently adopted methods, developed by ICRAF, for improved fallow management. In southern Zambia, increasing numbers of farmers are taking up CF methods, involving the development of a network of permanent planting stations (the “holey ground” method) in which organic matter, crop nutrients and soil moisture are concentrated and a series of crops is planted in rotation over successive years. A number of NGOs have also contributed to the promotion of better land husbandry practices, but they are largely confined to the southern areas of Zambia.
In recent years, MAFF has shifted towards applying more participatory approaches in its extension activities. The two most common approaches are the ‘Participatory Extension Approach’, PEA1, and the Farmer Field Schools (FFS). In the PEA, various extension staff, including agricultural, health and education extension agents, visit local communities in order to mobilise and motivate them to start local development initiatives. Although the PEA approach includes follow-up visits by extension staff to promote the continuation of development activities, there is relatively little allowance for local capacity building. The FFS approach is complementary to the PEA. FFSs have, also in Zambia, proven to be highly suitable for the provision of an intensive, participatory learning experience to farmers and local communities. The implementation of FFSs increases the understanding of farmers and communities of the local agro-ecosystem, and enables them to improve the management of their agro-ecosystem through a participatory learning experience in which they can adapt potentially suitable land management techniques to their local needs and environment. Because the change from slash-and-burn agriculture to sustainable land management would require farmers to adopt a fundamentally different approach to farming and land use, it is anticipated that a FFS extension approach is required to ensure the uptake of sustainable land management by farmers.
Despite recent achievements in the promotion of sustainable land management, there remains much to be done to achieve the long-term goal of sustainable management of the Miombo woodland ecosystem. While more sustainable land use technologies have been available and tested on a small-scale in Zambia in recent years, they have yet to be widely adopted among small-scale farmers. Moreover, they have not been combined and integrated in a framework that promotes the sustainable use of the Miombo woodlands as an ecosystem (e.g., during the stakeholder workshops held during project preparation it was confirmed that one of the major obstacles at the local level is a lack of experience with, and understanding of improved and sustainable agricultural and community based ecosystem management techniques). Therefore, there is a unique opportunity to benefit from the local experiences with FFS and CF, expand the experiences with IEM, and develop and implement an approach to promote the sustainable management of the Miombo woodland ecosystem through a FFS cum CF and IEM approach.
Expected Project Outcomes
The project would support local communities to adopt sustainable land management based on IEM and CF principles. The shift to CF can be made by individual farmers, whereas IEM requires the support from (a substantial part of) the local community. Compared to chitemene farming, CF is much more profitable, less labour intensive, and less vulnerable to drought and extremely wet years. Based upon the high adoption rates of CF in the south of Zambia, and taking into account the general effectiveness of the FFS approach, an adoption rate of 75% is expected. As it is anticipated that 325 FFSs will be organised, and some 8,000 farmers will participate in a FFS, this means that about 6,000 farmers will adopt CF as a result of this project. In total, about 25% of the farmers in the overall project area will participate in a FFS (see the paragraph ‘Beneficiaries and stakeholders’), and the FFS will be organised for groups of farmers involved in the management of contiguous blocks of Miombo woodland. This will facilitate the uptake of IEM by local communities. In addition, the project will, where required, provide specific IEM support to communities that show an interest to take up IEM subsequently to the FFS. However, as there is currently little experience in Zambia with IEM, it is not yet possible to predict the adoption rate of IEM. In addition, every community will chose it’s own package of IEM techniques. Taking the insecurity regarding the adoption rate and the way IEM will be implemented by local communities into consideration, the expected project outcomes are as follows:
Increased national and local capacity. About 50 extension staff will be trained in approaches to sustainable land management and the facilitation of FFSs. Through national and local workshops, the project will increase the awareness of policy makers and national and local government staff of the need for an integrated ecosystem management approach to agriculture, as well as increase their capacities to integrate ecological principles in agricultural planning and extension activities. In addition, the awareness and capacity of 325 local communities with regards to sustainable land management will be greatly enhanced through the implementation of a FFS on CF and IEM.
Carbon sequestration. Preliminary estimates indicate that the changes in the existing system of land use characterised by slash-and-burn agriculture will result in a considerable sequestration of carbon, estimated at 958,000 tonnes over a 20 year period. At a value of US$ 5 per tonne of C, this is equivalent to US$ 4,790,000 (see Appendix 4)1.
Biodiversity conservation. Mkushi and Serenje districts contain 4 protected areas, which are critical for the conservation of threatened biodiversity of global importance. The areas are severely threatened by encroachment and poaching. As the project will support some 6,000 farmers to shift from chitemene to more sustainable forms of land use, it is projected that, over time, about 170,000 ha of Miombo woodlands will no longer be subjected to slash-and-burn agriculture. As farmers will be inclined to settle their fields in the more accessible areas away from the protected areas, a significant reduction of encroachment in these areas can be expected. In addition, the project will support the adoption of IEM concepts among participating local communities, thus contributing further to the sustainable management of the Miombo woodland ecosystem outside the existing protected areas.
Food security. There will also be a substantial impact on the food security of the 6,000 farmers that are expected to take up CF and IEM. A large part of the small-scale farmers suffer from seasonal food shortages. CF will enable farmers to achieve higher yields and also, through the inclusion of food security crops such as cassava and sweet potatoes, reduce the risk of food shortages. Female headed households, which generally face reduced labour availability, will particularly benefit as CF is less labour intensive than the slash-and-burn systems.
Replicable model for sustainable land management in the Miombo woodlands. Finally, the project will result in a replicable model for sustainable land management (including an FFS cum CF and IEM extension approach) that can also be applied in other parts of northern Zambia covered by Miombo woodlands, as well as in areas in neighbouring countries with comparable agro-ecological characteristics. The project includes a component to promote the adoption of the project’s approach to other districts in Zambia and an activity to disseminate relevant information to other countries and the global community.
Project Activities to Achieve Outcomes (in between brackets the costs of each component; funds are requested from GEF, unless indicated otherwise)
Component A. Supporting studies (US$ 89,000, of which US$ 49,000 is requested from GEF)
(A1) Assessment of sustainable farming techniques (GEF: US$ 4,000). A brief (2 man-months) study will be undertaken in order to (i) assess current farm management practices in the two districts; (ii) examine constraints to and opportunities for the increased uptake of CF, (iii) assess the potential suitability of existing CF techniques for application in the Miombo woodlands, as well as identify CF techniques that need to be validated further through participatory targeted research; and (iv) present a preliminary proposal on how to include the ‘proven’ CF techniques in the FFS curriculum. The study will be implemented by national consultants (one CF expert and one participatory extension expert) contracted through the MAFF.
(A2) Assessment of potential community-based integrated ecosystem management techniques (GEF: US$ 20,000). This study will have as objectives: (i) baseline assessment of the natural resources in the project area (including biodiversity and agro-biodiversity); (ii) baseline assessment of current local ecosystem management; (iii) identification and assessment of potential sustainable IEM techniques; (iv) preparation of the sessions on community-based IEM to be included in the FFS curriculum; and (v) a preliminary proposal for district level natural resources planning and management (to be discussed in two district workshops, Activity C1). In addition, the study will identify: (i) potential IEM techniques to be tested in the targeted research programme; and (ii) suitable indicators for the monitoring of IEM to be included in the monitoring and evaluation programme (Activity E2). In particular, the study will examine, but is not limited to: community fire control, community management of biodiversity resources (addressing in particular the issues of hunting and poaching), and agroforestry (including an assessment of suitable species for soil fertility improvement as well as species for charcoal production). The study will require 10 man-months of national consultants, who will work together with the Environmental Council of Zambia and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. This baseline study is substantially larger than the study on sustainable farming techniques because there is relatively less experience in Zambia with community-based IEM. Suitable candidates for the studies include the University of Zambia and the Zambia Wildlife Authority. It is important that the currently proposed project seeks co-operation with the GEF supported ‘Africa Community Outreach Programme for Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biological Resources’ in order to benefit from current experiences with the promotion of community based natural resources management in Zambia, as well as in a number of other countries in the region.
(A3). Targeted research (US$ 65,000, of which US$ 25,000 is requested from GEF). From year two until the end of the project, there will be a limited amount of targeted research. The targeted research programme will be based upon the principles of participatory technology development, involving a co-operation between farmers, extension staff (local and central level MAFF) and researchers (in particular the University of Zambia). The aim of the programme will be to test a number of promising CF and IEM techniques in more detail prior to their dissemination to farmers. The activities to be carried out under the targeted research programme will be determined on the basis of the two assessments described above (Activities A1 and A2). The programme is to be implemented on the fields of a number of interested farmers, who will be adequately compensated (in cash) in case of lower than average harvests. Regular feedback on the outcomes of the programme will be given to local extension staff and farmers by means of seasonal site visits and workshops.
Component B. Capacity building (US$ 161,000, of which US$ 116,000 is requested from GEF)
(B1). Start-up workshop (GEF: US$ 6,000). The capacity building activities will be planned during a start-up workshop, to be organised in either Mkushi or Serenje town. The workshop will be partly based upon the results of the two supporting studies (A1 and A2). The workshop will be divided in two parts. The first part will take one day and will be attended by a broader public. Its main purposes are to (i) bring the various stakeholders together; (ii) discuss the output of the study; and (iii) provide general recommendations for the implementation of FFS and support to farmers in taking up CF and IEM in the two districts. Participants will include district and national staff of MAFF (technical support and extension units), the University of Zambia, ZNFU, commercial and small-scale farmers, the Mkushi Agricultural Co-operation and NGOs with activities in the project area, such as CLUSA and DAPP.
The second part will take three days and is meant to (i) develop the curriculum for the Training of Trainers (TOT); and (ii) develop the work programme for the on-farm targeted research activities. Participants will include central and district level staff of MAFF, farmers’ representatives, and recognised Zambian experts in CF, IEM and participatory extension from the University of Zambia, NGOs, etc.
(B2). Training of Trainers (US$ 145,000, of which US$ 100,000 is requested from GEF). About 50 camp and block officers from Mkushi and Serenje districts will be trained in the organisation and implementation of FFSs in CF and IEM. These 50 local extension staff will be the facilitators of the FFSs to be implemented under the project (Activity C2). The training of trainers (TOT) will last one growing season (October-April). The training will start with a 2 week start-up session, after which it will continue for one week every 2 or 3 weeks. In total, 10 weeks of training are envisaged. The training will take place in an existing training centre located in Mkushi or Serenje district and will include: (i) basic principles and technical aspects of CF and IEM; (ii) FFS extension approaches; and (iii) implementation, in couples, of a try-out FFS in the area, in which the most promising CF and IEM techniques, as identified during the start-up workshop will be tested.
Master trainers will include technical staff from MAFF, MAFF extension staff with experience in conducting FFS, University staff, staff of relevant NGOs (e.g. CLUSA) and other specialists as required. It is envisaged to contract two master trainers for the total duration of the TOT (one expert in CF and IEM, and one expert in participatory extension), and 10 subject matter specialists that will each provide a limited number of training sessions in particular subjects. This ‘fast-track’ organisation of the TOT will be facilitated by the experience with CF in the area, and the experience of a number of the district and block extension officers with FFS.
The CF and IEM techniques to be tested will be specified during the start-up workshop, but may include: use of permanent planting stations with spot application of lime, green manure and/or fertilisers, cover crops, crop rotation including leguminous species, zero and minimum tillage, mulching, agroforestry, community fire control, etc. It is important that sufficient attention is paid to the economic aspects of the cropping pattern, the rotation should include, as much as possible, legumes that produce profitable crops (e.g. groundnuts).
(B3). Curriculum development workshops (GEF: US$ 10,000). At the end of the first season, a first curriculum development workshop will be held in order to (i) evaluate the results of the TOT and the on-farm participatory research activities; (ii) develop the FFS curriculum; and (iii) plan the implementation of FFS. The curriculum of the FFS will be finalised on the basis of the supporting studies, the results of the first year of the targeted research programme, the results of the try-out FFS and further consultation of farmers. Participants will include the Master trainers and the FFS trainers, as well as representatives from MAFF, ZNFU and NGOs. The curriculum will include sections on (i) the role of organic matter in soils; (ii) soil nutrient management; (iii) the consequences of soil acidity; (iv) liming; (v) planting in permanent planting stations; (vi) crop rotation; (vii) cover crops; (viii) zero-and minimum tillage; (ix) the impact of crop residue burning; (x) agroforestry; (xi) community fire control; etc. (see Appendix 5). The curriculum development workshop will be repeated on an annual basis in order to adapt the FFS curriculum to new experiences gained with CF and IEM through the FFS activities and the targeted research programme. Participants in the follow-up curriculum development workshops will include the master trainers, the FFS facilitators, farmers’ representatives, NGOs and other people directly involved in the project.
Component C. Promotion of sustainable land management in Mkushi and Serenje districts (US$ 355,000, of which US$ 302,000 is requested from GEF)
(C1) Two workshops on integrated ecosystem management at the district level (US$ 5,000). In both Mkushi and Serenje district, the project will organise a workshop on local integrated ecosystem management. The workshop will be partly based upon the results of the study on community-based ecosystem management (Activity A2) and will have as principal goal the identification of options for district level support for IEM. These options may include (i) integrating ecological concerns in the agricultural and spatial planning process; (ii) integrating IEM techniques in the regular agricultural extension programme; and (iii) targeted support for communities interested in applying community-based management of natural resources. Participants in the workshops will include national, district and block level agricultural and environmental officers, project staff, NGOs and community representatives.
(C2) Implementation of FFS on conservation farming and integrated ecosystem management (US$ 231,000, of which US$ 178,000 requested from GEF). Following the curriculum development workshop, in years two, three and four, the local extension staff will return to their respective blocks and camps and implement the FFSs. Each year, each staff will be able to facilitate 2 FFSs. Thus, with 25 farmers per FFS, and an estimated 50 staff trained, 2,500 farmers will participate in a FFS in CF and IEM each year. As some 625 farmers will participate in the try-out FFS, in total around 8,000 farmers will be trained in the course of the project. The intensity of the FFS will be determined during the curriculum development workshop, but will be in the order of one morning per 2 weeks (possibly with a different frequency during the dry and rainy seasons). During the FFS, the farmers will try the use of lime and other techniques in their fields. Lime and implements will be supplied by the project. Besides conservation farming, about half of the participatory training sessions of the FFS will be dedicated to IEM. Although the precise contents of the FFS will be determined during the curriculum development workshop, it is envisaged that these will include sessions on the principles of community based ecosystem management, fire control, agroforestry, sustainable hunting levels, etc. The trainers will be supported by a multi-sectoral team of resource persons that will provide specific inputs to the FFSs. The team of resource persons will include experts in (i) participatory farmers training; (ii) community organisation; (iii) gender; (iv) IEM; (v) CF; (vi) agroforestry; and (vii) other issues as required. The resource persons will rotate between the different FFSs. Throughout the FFS, the farmers will be encouraged to form farmers groups that will allow them to implement IEM, as well as buy the necessary inputs, such as lime, in bulk.
In line with the costs of the FFSs already implemented in Zambia, the costs of each FFS are anticipated to be US$ 350 (or US$ 14 per farmer). This includes a facilitation fund of US$ 50 per FFS, to be managed by the facilitator. He/she could use the fund for purchasing additional inputs or tools as required, small maintenance of (transportation) equipment, etc. (the facilitation fund will be disbursed to the facilitator immediately after the FFS has started, and expenditures will be checked afterwards by the project manager).
In the years following the FFS, for as long as the project’s duration of four years permits, farmers will receive monthly visits from the trainers in order to be encouraged to sustain CF and IEM, be informed on the proceedings of the targeted research activities and to receive support on other issues as required. A yearly workshop will be organised for the FFS facilitators and farmers representatives from both districts, as well as national MAFF staff and researchers in order to exchange experiences.
(C3) Enabling farmers to obtain the required inputs (GEF: US$ 79,000). In order to make a shift to CF and IEM, farmers need to be assisted in obtaining the first batch of required inputs. As the new system is substantially more profitable than the slash-and-burn system, farmers will be able to purchase the inputs required in the subsequent years. The required inputs are lime, tools and agroforestry seedlings. The approach envisaged to support farmers in obtaining these three inputs is described in Appendix 6.
(C4) Support to communities in implementing integrated ecosystem management (GEF: US$ 40,000). The project will provide additional support to communities that are interested in taking up integrated management of ecosystem resources. The support will be provided by national consultants, and may be used for the preparation of community level biodiversity management plans, fire control regulations, etc. The eligible activities would be further specified during the district level workshops on integrated ecosystem management (Activity C1) on the basis of the assessment of potential community-based ecosystem management techniques (Activity A2). The fund would be handled by the project manager.
Component D. Scaling up of the sustainable land management approach (US$ 360,000, of which US$ 10,000 is requested from GEF).
(D1) Sustainable land management workshop (GEF: US$ 10,000). A workshop on sustainable land management, including CF and IEM, in the Miombo woodland area will be held in the beginning of year 3, the main purpose being the evaluation of the achievements of the sustainable land management programme and the planning of activities to extend the programme to other parts of the Miombo woodlands in Zambia (Activity D2). In addition, the implications of sustainable land management for carbon sequestration and biodiversity conservation will be evaluated.
(D2) Promotion of sustainable land management in other parts of the Miombo woodlands (US$ 350,000, to be co-financed). Co-funding resources from the World Bank funded ASIP successor project will be used for the promotion of the sustainable land management approach in other districts in the Miombo woodland areas of Zambia. These follow-up activities will include the training of extension staff from other districts in sustainable land management and FFS facilitation, and the implementation of FFSs on sustainable land management in areas where farmers’ representatives and MAFF field staff have indicated an interest to take up these activities.
Component E. Project management, monitoring and evaluation, and information dissemination (US$ 385,000, of which US$ 270,000 is requested from GEF).
(E1). Project management (US$ 285,000, of which US$ 170,000 is requested from GEF). Project management will be the responsibility of the Land Husbandry Section of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries (MAFF). A project manager will be appointed at the District level, to be based in either Mkushi or Serenje town. He/she will take care of the day-to-day management of the project, as well as reporting to central level MAFF. Salary, transport and office equipment will be provided by the project, whereas an office and all support staff, in one of the existing local offices of MAFF, will be provided by the Government. The project manager will have a small budget (US$ 5,000 a year) for miscellaneous expenditure required for project implementation (operation and maintenance, farmer visits, consultancies, transport, etc.). At the central level, a part-time project co-ordinator will be appointed in the Land Husbandry Section of MAFF. Salary, office equipment and transport for the central level project co-ordinator will be provided by the Government.
(E2) Monitoring and evaluation (GEF: US$ 70,000). Monitoring of the project will be undertaken by the MAFF as well as by farmer groups themselves (participatory monitoring). Indicators include (i) total number of FFS facilitators trained; (ii) number of FFS conducted; (iii) number of farmers trained; (iv) number of farmers having started CF; (v) number of communities that have taken up IEM; (vi) hectares cultivated with CF; (vii) funds disbursed to farmers; and (viii) other indicators, as identified in the ‘Assessment of potential community-based integrated ecosystem management techniques’ (Activity A2). The budget also includes provisions for the mid-term review and ex-post evaluation of the project. Mid-term review will be undertaken by an international consultant (two months), and will include an assessment of project achievements, and in particular of (i) the effectiveness of the CF, IEM and participatory extension activities; and (ii) the impact on carbon sequestration and biodiversity conservation. The consultant will also provide general technical backstopping, and will provide recommendations for project implementation in years three and four. The ex-post evaluation will also be done by an international consultant with experience in CF, IEM and participatory extension through FFS, and will result in a final evaluation of the achievements of the project, including an analysis of the environmental and food security benefits, as well as recommendations for further scaling up of the sustainable land management approach. A more detailed description of the monitoring and evaluation plan is presented in Chapter F.
(E3). Information dissemination (GEF: US$ 30,000). The project will include a campaign to disseminate information on sustainable land management to other districts in Zambia and other countries with comparable agro-ecological conditions and ecosystem management problems. Various activities are envisaged, such as preparation of a number of information brochures, the production of a video to be shown to other MAFF district offices and farmer groups, farmers and extension staff exchange visits, etc. In addition, the project’s outcomes will be disseminated through existing global networks on conservation farming and sustainable land management.
Sustainability Analysis and Risk Assessment
The following aspects have been included in the project design to ensure long-term sustainability of the sustainable land management activities:
Stakeholder and community participation. The project activities are based on a strong local demand for improvement of farming techniques. Experiences with CF in other parts of Zambia demonstrate very high adoption rates and the sustainability of the uptake of CF techniques.
Participatory training through FFS. In the FFS, farmers will experiment themselves with CF and IEM in order to develop the techniques most appropriate to their needs and local environment.
The project activities are closely linked to the Agricultural Sector Investment Programme, as well as to the Conservation Farming Programme to ensure consistency as well as continuity of operations beyond the project’s life.
The project activities include a workshop in the beginning of project year 3 to evaluate the first results of the project, as well as to set up a strategy for the dissemination of information on sustainable land management in other parts of Zambia and neighbouring countries.
A significant part of the farmers in the project area will be trained in sustainable land management (about 25%). This will enable the effective implementation of community-based ecosystem management measures.
The FFS include an element of empowerment of farmers. As they are encouraged to experiment themselves with sustainable land management techniques and expand their knowledge base, as well as to organise themselves to implement IEM and purchase farm inputs, they will be in a strong position to continue improving their ecosystem management techniques and ensure the supply of required inputs. Experiences with FFS in other countries, as well as in Zambia, have shown that many farmers have continued the group learning process after the FFSs in order to experiment with new agricultural techniques or income earning activities.
Project risks include:
A delay in the start of the baseline project. The ASIP successor project is due to start mid-2002. Although the project preparation process has already been started, there is a risk that the start-up date of the project would be later than currently anticipated.
A failure to organise and implement the FFSs according schedule due to limited local organisational and management capacities. To overcome this risk, the project will employ a district level project manager, who will be in charge of implementing the project in collaboration with concerned MAFF district offices, NGOs and farmers’ organisations. The manager will have a limited budget for regular operation and maintenance activities. A Project Co-ordinator at the central level of MAFF will ensure sufficient technical and institutional support.
Inappropriate timing leading to delays in project implementation. Experience of a large number of projects in the country shows a general trend of slow disbursement of funds and late delivery of inputs. It is crucial that FFS are started in time (in the period August-September) in order to prepare for the growing season (that starts in November), and it is equally crucial that the inputs required for the FFS (lime, small amounts of fertiliser, tools, seedlings) are delivered to the FFS, on location, in time. Ensuring adequate timing of project activities will be one of the key responsibilities of the local manager.
Insufficient logistical experience of local level staff to ensure an adequate supply of bagged lime to farmers. Currently, all lime is sold in bulk to large scale farmers. In the project, a partnership will be sought with the Mkushi Agricultural Co-operation (which has indicated interest to co-operate) and the firm Hi-Qualime (which has indicated preliminary interest) in order to ensure that bagged lime will be available at a number of local depots in Mkushi and Serenje districts (see Appendix 6).
Failure to disseminate the outcomes of the targeted research activities and successful FFSs. To overcome this risk, the project will organise yearly workshops in which the results of the FFSs and the on-farm targeted research activities will be discussed, as well as organise farmer-to-farmer visits to preceding FFSs.
Stakeholder Involvement and Social Assessment
Beneficiaries and stakeholders. Mkushi and Serenje districts are divided into 5 and 8 blocks, respectively, and each block is divided into on average 5 camps. Mkushi district has about 10,000, and Serenje district about 22,000 farmer households, over 95% of them being small-scale farmers. The project will provide a participatory training, as well as other support in order to enable the purchase of the first batch of required inputs, to about 8,000 farmers in 325 communities in Mkushi and Serenje districts. Some 6,000 of these farmers are expected to take up CF and all communities are expected to experiment with IEM and adopt the IEM techniques that they perceive to be beneficial. These farmers are dependent on low-input agriculture, and the poorest among them are facing seasonal food shortages as a result of unsustainable farming practices. It was decided to include all camps in the project except for the camps located in the national parks and Game Management Areas, where there are very few farmers and no extension staff. However, all camps adjacent to these areas are included in order to have a maximum impact on encroachment in the parks and GMAs.
Stakeholder involvement in project preparation. During project preparation, two stakeholders workshops were held, one in Mkushi and one in Serenje district (funded by ASIP). The workshops lasted half a day and involved group discussions with some 30 to 40 farmers. Particular attention was paid to obtaining equal input from female farmers. The workshops confirmed the initial assumption that agricultural development is perceived to be of critical importance in rural development, and that farmers are highly interested in learning about CF and IEM. In addition, it brought up a number of other relevant aspects, such as the declining yields as a result of unsustainable agricultural practices, the loss of most draught animals due to the Corridor Disease in the last 5 years, and the importance of women in agriculture (see below). In addition, the farmers stressed that past development schemes had lost part of their effectiveness due to the late delivery of inputs. All these aspects have been addressed in project design. In addition to the workshops, focus meetings were held with all other major stakeholders, including government staff, extension officers (at national, district, block and camp levels), the private sector (Hi-Qualime and Mkushi Agricultural Co-operation), NGOs (CLUSA, DAPP, GART, ZATAC, ZNFU-CFU, etc.), researchers, commercial farmers, and the gender specialist involved in PEA activities in the area.
Social assessment. Over 95% of the population of the project area are small-scale farmers living mostly around or slightly above the poverty level (US$ 1 a day). They are from various tribal backgrounds, particularly Bemba, but tribal conflicts are rare. Most of the land is community owned. The village chief is responsible for the allocation of land to families, who can use this land for chitemene or other land-uses. In principle, every family has its own plot, in which it rotates the cropped area. When new families arrive they are usually allocated a plot of land by the chief, who can also take back the land of families that have left. Women account for the majority of the work in the fields and, in addition, some 20 to 30% of the households in the project area are female headed households. In the stakeholder workshops, it appeared that for women agricultural development is priority number one (as one of the participants put it “when you are hungry you can’t go to school”), whereas men tended to put agricultural development on par with the development of infrastructure. Overall, it is anticipated that the poorest sections of the rural society, as well as female headed households, are likely to receive the largest benefits from the project. These groups are particularly confronted with a shortage of labour to conduct slash-and-burn farming and a lack of possibilities to obtain agricultural inputs. Implementation of the CF and IEM system will enable them to increase their yields, while reducing the labour and agricultural inputs required. To ensure that women will benefit in equal proportions from the project, the following adaptations have been made in project design: (i) it is aimed to reach at least 50% participation of women in the FFS; (ii) gender training will be provided to the extension staff as part of the TOT course; and (iii) a gender specialist will be made available to participate as resource person in the FFSs.