Conservation agriculture: keeping people and wildlife safe.

AuthorNierenberg, Danielle

One of the first things you notice about grocery stores in Zambia is the plethora of processed foods, from crackers made in Argentina to popular U.S. breakfast cereals. Complementing these foreign foods, however, is a variety of locally made and processed products, including indigenous varieties of organic rice, natural peanut butter, and honey from the "It's Wild" brand.

It's Wild was started by the Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO), an organization founded more than 30 years ago to help farmers improve their agricultural practices in ways that also protect the environment. COMACO encourages farmers to diversify their skills by raising livestock and bees, growing organic rice, using improved irrigation, and adopting other alternatives to slash-and-burn agriculture and wildlife poaching.

Drought, degraded soils, and the lack of effective agricultural inputs had left many farmers living near protected areas in eastern Zambia desperate, forcing many to turn to these destructive practices.

"We're trying to turn things around," said Dale Lewis, executive director of COMACO.

By training more than 650 "lead" farmers to train other farmers, COMACO also hopes to boost incomes by connecting farmers to the...

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