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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Formation and Certified Seeds to improve agriculture and better living conditions of rural population in Luwingu District - Valponasca Learning Farm (Northern Region, Zambia

VIDES Internazionale (
Non-governmental organization (NGO)

    In Zambia agriculture can act as a catalyst for poverty reduction and improved nutrition. Despite it, agricultural growth remains stagnant; poverty rates in rural Zambia remain high, and incidences of stunting, malnutrition and wasting continue to disproportionately affect rural people. Luwingu District is one of the 9 districts in the Northern Province. It lies about 165 km west of Kasama, with a population estimated at 134,426 distributed in 672 villages. Marginalised youngsters and young women are prioritised by the project. In the area most of the farmers are practicing Chitemene System and subsistence agriculture, which does not provide enough income to meet basic needs.

    Implementation of the Project/Activity

    1) Training of trainers of small-scale farmers in effective farming practice and agribusiness: a total of 160 representatives of small-scale farmers and 16 extension officers (civil servants of the Ministry of Agriculture) from 16 camps in the Luwingu District are trained. The training lasts for 5 days and take place quarterly. Training topics: production, marketing, value chain for groundnuts, beans and other agricultural products, along with leadership skills, life skills. The representatives will then reach 100 farmers per camp, for a total of 1600 farmers, 30% are women. Trainings is held at each camp and last 3-days. The training is spreading at a larger scale the workshops contents. 2) Installing a central pivot irrigation system for the production of organic certified seeds of groundnuts and beans (MGV4, with an oil content up to 48%). 3) Establishing a plant for the production of groundnut oil 4) Building a bulking facility for storage and packing of beans to allow bulking crops from the farmers to facilitate commercialisation after ensuring value added (packing). 5) Planting certified seeds and adopting scientific practices, farmers succeed to increase groundnut production, from 0,78 ton/ha up yo 1,2 ton/ha in the first year, 1,5 ton/ha in the second year and 2 ton/ha in the third year (3 ton/ha using fertilizer) 6) Planting certified seeds and adopting scientific practices, farmers succeed to increase beans production, from 0,9 ton/ha up yo 1,2 ton/ha in the first year, 1,5 ton/ha in the second year and 2 ton/ha in the third year (3 ton/ha using fertilizer) Monitoring of the project has been conducted by the Project Coordinator, along with Project Management Committee, representatives of Cooperatives and Farmers’ Unions. Beneficiaries have also been involved.


    1) Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. The project has already shown a capacity of affecting community welfare directly targeting the most vulnerable. In 2019 the 8,97% of the sample were earning less than 40 kwacha/day (from 20 to 33 kwacha per day), when in March 2018, the 11% of the sample were earning less than 10 kwacha/day. The income increased from 5,62 kwacha/day to 25,21 kwacha/day in little more than 1 year. 2) Goal 5: Promote gender equality and empower women. The number of women involved increased and they are taking up leadership roles. Out of 529 Farmers, 52% are women. 3) Goal 2, 3 & 13 : Ensure environmental sustainability and zero hunger. Farmers have been sensitized towards the environment and in particular over soil. VLF is affecting environmental sustainability leading peasant farmers to stop adopting chitemene system practices and take up rotation system that improve the soil. Workshops and trainings have spread knowledge on environmental protection.

    Enabling factors and constraints

    The project received the vital financial support of Misean Cara, an international Irish faith-based missionary movement. VLF ensured the regularity of the meetings; facilitated the logistic; provided formation coupled with input distribution; provided innovative farming practices and built a long-term vision based on context’s analysis and needs. Constraints have been caused by the isolation of the project site, leading to excessive expenditure in terms of fuel and increased time consumption. Also, availability of goods and marketing are problematic. However, the impact of the project on the local population has brought about economic growth.

    Sustainability and replicability

    In order to build up its sustainability a number actions have been undertaken: • starting and strengthening egg production and sale. • Sausage production. • small drip irrigation plots have been set up to ensure vegetable production. - Setting up Farmers’ Groups is another way of ensuring sustainability of results. A group ensures socio-economic ties. Farmers are linked to a program and to a reciprocal control - SILC saving scheme (Savings and Internal Lending Communities) can help the Farmers’ Groups to grow. - The newly opened Trade Test Certificate in General Agriculture is a modality of ensuring continuity and progress of VLF. Building facilities for training of farmers would be an essential step in order to ensure sustainability. VLF has been organising the expansion of the practice through the formation of zones (a place where nearby group can carry out common activities). In the future VLF is hoping to pick up some training points and to construct a farmer Training Center.

    Other sources of information

    A case studied has been reported by an external evaluator. Gilbert Chishala is a young boy who has just completed Grade 12. One day he started noticing something different; farmers started beautifully organizing their fields in preparation to cultivate the land. A sense of curiosity took hold. Gilbert approached them and he came to know about VLF and on how they got their beans and what did they learnt. Gilbert was one of the first to register in the training. He managed to run his farm during Covid-19 and improved his farming business with thanks to the learnings from VLF.

    COVID-19 Impact

    Even if its impact in Luwingu has been quite mild on a medical point of view (number of people affected and few mortalities), COVID-19 has impacted the implementation of the practice since: a) it has been necessary to close down activities for few months, until movements could be resumed; b) even if meetings have taken place on a regular basis, it has been necessary to postpone the organisation of residential activities in order to adopt a behaviour of prudence; c) because of COVID-19 distancing requirements and because of the higher number of Groups, it has become evident the inadequacy of the structures at VLF for continuing and expanding the practice: it is necessary to have larger facilities for meetings, beside some rooms for intensive training and lodging and catering facilities.

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    This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
    26 June 2017 (start date)
    31 July 2021 (date of completion)
    SALESIAN SISTERS OF ST. JOHN BOSCO Our Lady of Peace Province – South Africa
    1 2 3 5 13
    Other beneficiaries

    Direct beneficiaries: - 156 Workshops participants: - 529 Groups’ Members - 529x5,94 = 3142,26 farmers and their family. Women in Farmers’ Groups are 52,74% of all members. Around 20 farmers are disabled. Key stakeholder are: 1) Farmers’ Groups and their representatives in designing strategies for life improvement 2) Self Help Africa 3) Local Government Authorities (The Local Ministry of Agriculture)

    More information
    Contact Information

    Rubina, International NGO