When it was first formed in 2008, Musuungu farmers’ co-operative in the northern part of Zambia had a membership of only 25 people. But it has gone from strength to strength - and here's why....
Since joining WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative in 2009, Musuungu co-operative has been able to increase its membership to 200 farmers (80 of whom are women). The co-op, located in Kawambwa district, has also increased its maize and bean production significantly, and expanded the number of buyers to whom it can sell produce.
P4P is a global pilot project that aims to support smallholder farmers by improving their business opportunities through access to more lucrative markets.
Connecting Farmers to WFP’s Purchase for Progress
In 2010, WFP’s P4P unit trained members of Musuungu co-operative in preparation for the 2010/2011 farming season. The training was designed to strengthen a range of factors including the co-operative’s capacity to meet WFP’s quality and quantity requirements as well as its procurement modalities and procedures, community aggregation and record keeping. The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock also conducted training in business skills and in post-harvest handling and storage. Meanwhile, Kawambwa District Agriculture Co-ordinator Samson Chipeta is working alongside WFP to help the smallholder farmers in exploring markets for their pulses beyond the P4P programme.
In 2011, less than a year after the first training and harvest, Musuungu co-operative was able to produce 200 bags of beans. Production grew even further the following year, with a harvest of 1,000 bags in the 2012/2013 marketing season. To increase the use of locally-procured food, a portion of Musuungu co-operative’s yield has gone towards WFP’s School Feeding programme in Musuungu primary school.
Women Empowerment through Animal Traction (WEAT)
P4P has partnered with Heifer International for implementation of a project known as ‘Women Empowerment through Animal Traction’ (WEAT), which is being piloted in Kawambwa district, and aims to empower women through the provision of animal-based traction equipment. In addition to providing skills in animal draft power, cattle management, business, record keeping and conservation farming, the project will provide female farmers with two heifers each, a ripper or plough and an animal health drug kit that will be distributed on a loan, ‘pass-on-the-gift’ basis. The revolving period for this loan is one year.
Beatrice Musonda is one of the first participants in the WEAT project. With the animals she is due to receive, she expects to reduce significantly her time spent in the fields ploughing – and she hopes to increase her yield from the 2013/2014 farming season.