Since 2012 we have worked on Project One Seed in Zambia, Africa. We spent three weeks living in the villages, meeting with farmers, school leaders, village elders and tribal headmen. While speaking to individuals of the community, we realized that there were several recurring themes. The Zambians weren’t able to feed themselves, their health was poor, they didn’t have access to clean drinking water, they had no sources of power, they desperately wanted to expand their education and they needed to find new ways to make money. Our accomplishments in Zambia have taught us so much about working with at-risk communities, and we have developed a successful model that can be scaled and sustained in any part of the world. Our work is founded on these key principles:
1. Enactus Lambton believes that the point of our work is to empower people to achieve their vision and their goals. We must listen. We must be driven by community goals.
2. We conduct thorough needs assessments. This ensures that what we are providing is grounded in the needs, wants, and goals of the people we work with, which leads to true empowerment and ownership of the project for our clients.
3. We train trainers. Without fail, every group we have assisted wants to be empowered to achieve their own goals, so we transfer our knowledge to them. This creates scalability and lasting sustainability and most importantly, ownership of the project.
We developed a food security project in Zambia that was created to teach farmers a new method of farming that increased their traditional revenue and yield by 4.6 times. We formed a partnership with agriculture specialist companies which allowed for us to utilize their expertise in farming to create a solution to the Zambian’s lack of food security. The solution was no-till farming.
In 2012, we had only one farmer in the project. Fast forward to 2020, and we now have over 140,000 farmers in the program growing 348,270 acres of food and over 500 trainers have been trained. We also realized it was equally important to ensure that future generations of farmers were also taught the same knowledge. To accomplish this, we worked with the Zambian Ministry of Education and our farming technique is now integrated into the school curriculum, beginning in preschool and continuing until grade 12.
After eight years working in the southern province of Zambia and making 30 trips to Zambia, here are our key results:
• $144,129,210.00 in new profits have been generated in communities where families typically survive on $1.00 per day
• 1,050,744 people are now part of the middle class and have food security
• 75,100 children are learning our farming method in 143 elementary schools and 15 high schools
• 140,000+ farmers have been trained in no-till farming
• 39,000 people now have access to clean water
• 18,000 people have been taught financial literacy
• 3,100 jobs have been created in three new industries
• 255 businesses have been launched
Please note, all of the above metrics have been verified by a 3rd party auditor.
With food security achieved, our farmers were now ready to tackle building their economy. Farmers are not getting value for their crops and too often, their crops are exported to other countries. To stop this, we taught farmers how to add value to the raw materials they are growing so they could capture all or part of the value chain, dramatically increasing their profits.
1. FOOD PRODUCTION
We built a food production and wholesaling business spread over three villages. First, three entrepreneurs in each village bought a hammer mill and dehuller that can process corn. We trained 42 entrepreneurs how to run their own business and they have set up collection depots in their communities to buy corn from local farmers. The entrepreneurs then bring their raw corn, to one of the three production facilities. The corn is then processed using the hammer mill and dehuller. These value-added food products are then sold back to the farmers for consumption. This is only one of the many ways that we assisted the Zambians in creating value added products.
2. PEANUT BUTTER MANUFACTURING
Looking to spot additional development opportunities, we saw farmers were not growing peanuts but easily could. We worked with the farmers to launch their own business called Hippy Peanut Butter. Our farmers are now growing peanuts and supplying them to their own cooperative. They are now part of all key processes in the value chain – growing, manufacturing, packaging and selling their own brand of peanut butter. Together we created a truly remarkable and sustainable social enterprise. By adding value to their peanuts, farmers who previously sold their peanuts into the market for $150 per hectare, are now selling their own peanut butter, earning $3,000 per acre.
We realized our food production project can easily be replicated, and so we turned to cotton. 95% of Zambian cotton is exported to other countries. To stop this, we had the farmers build a small cotton ginnery, where the cotton is spun into yarn. 22 farmers are now spinning their cotton into yarn, instead of exporting it. Exported raw cotton is sold for 36 cents per pound, but by adding value, farmers are now selling yarn for 90 cents per pound – more than doubling their revenue. Just this year, 55,660 pounds of yarn has been sold, increasing revenue to $50,094 for our 22 farmers while reducing raw cotton exports. With yarn now being produced locally, we made a small leap in logic, and launched our next new enterprise, making and selling clothes. We discovered most school uniforms are purchased 300kms away, in the capital city of Lusaka. We saw this as another opportunity to create more jobs locally. We brought 17 women together, to form a local sewing coop. They have created 24 new jobs, sold 15,000 uniforms and have already earned $51,000.00.