Chipata-The governments of the United States, Zambia, and Norway, along with Cargill, Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO), General Mills, and the Wildlife Conservation Society, jointly launched the Better Life Alliance today, a public-private partnership that promotes food security and conservation farming in Eastern Province.
The Better Life Alliance helps farmers obtain improved varieties of seeds, teaches alternative livelihoods such as bee-keeping, and trains more farmers in conservation farming techniques, which increase crop production levels by naturally building soil fertility while conserving the environment. Superior harvests, alternative livelihoods, and premium market prices increase small-holder farmers’ incomes and improve food security and nutrition. The Alliance also helps to conserve Zambia’s wildlife and environment.
“Market-driven agricultural development will sustainably improve household food security in Zambia,” noted Dr. Susan K. Brems, Mission Director for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). “USAID’s partnership in the Better Life Alliance pairs the technical expertise of firms like Cargill and General Mills with COMACO to help Zambian farmers better their lives and advance the region’s economic growth.”
USAID supports the Better Life Alliance by expanding COMACO’s efforts to train smallholder farmers, promote conservation farming, and purchase crops. “COMACO’s “It’s Wild!” food brand makes healthy, chemical-free food products with ingredients that come from smallholder farmers,” stated COMACO CEO Dr. Dale Lewis. “As part of the Alliance, COMACO commits to pay top prices for food grown by these farmers, if produced with conservation farming methods and if farmers do not poach wild animals.”
COMACO’s Chipata food processing plant was also commissioned today. USAID’s investment in the Alliance included expanding the plant and upgrading equipment and vehicles. The new processing plant will enable COMACO to purchase and process additional crops – including soy, rice, and groundnuts – grown by Better Life Alliance farmers.
USAID’s partnership in the Alliance is extending outreach and market access to more than 40,000 farming households. The American people’s $6.5 million investment in the Better Life Alliance is part of the U.S. Feed the Future Initiative’s planned investment in agricultural development and improved nutrition in Zambia. Over the next five years, Feed the Future investments aim to raise 200,000 Zambian households out of poverty.