Working in partnership to grow Zambia’s future
The village of Chanyanya is located near the Kafue River south of the Zambian capital, Lusaka. Farmland here is fertile but underutilised. Yields are constrained by unpredictable rainfall and so land productivity is poor. As a consequence, Chanyanya’s smallholders live below the national poverty line and are, at times, reliant upon food aid. Irrigation systems installed by nearby commercial farms have allowed them to diversify, extend the growing season and improve yields. However, smallholders lack the required scale, finance and specialist knowledge to emulate these successes. The Zambian Government are committed to pro-poor agricultural led development and have identified irrigation as central to long term economic growth and poverty reduction.
In 2006, a group of 126 smallholders and 4 commercial farmers formed an interim committee to secure the right to extract water from the Kafue River. The group then approached InfraCo Africa seeking the financing and expertise needed to convert these rights into a bankable irrigation project. InfraCo Africa, through its principal developer eleQtra, designed a transformative project. Originally, the intention was to develop a single, irrigated and viable farm of 1,575ha. However, investors were nervous of greenfield, primary production in sub-Saharan Africa and smallholders were reluctant to engage in an unproven model. To address these concerns, InfraCo Africa funded Phase I of the Chanyanya project as a ‘proof-of-concept’ pilot. The project established the Chanyanya Infrastructure Company (CIC) and the Chanyanya Smallholders Cooperative Society (CSCS).
In 2008, CSCS entered into a partnership with CIC, leasing their land to establish a commercial farm. CIC installed the bulk water infrastructure required to support four pivots and provide infield irrigation to 148ha of farmland. In turn, CSCS receive regular lease payments, hold shares in the commercial enterprise and have access to individual irrigated market garden plots. These plots provide smallholders with the opportunity to farm year-round and grow a variety of higher value vegetable crops. The project also employs a full time Agronomist to run a demonstration market garden and a Social Development Officer to build governance capacity within CSCS. Once all investment into CIC is repaid, CSCS will have the option to own the commercial enterprise outright: an empowering long-term goal.
Following the demonstrated success of the pilot, InfraCo Africa was instrumental in the government securing grant funding from the Dutch ORIO Facility to fund an expansion of the project and TA to finance the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP). Delivered in partnership with the GoZ Steering Committee, ORIO funding will be used to expand the Chanyanya project to cover up to 124ha of additional land and to provide 15ha of additional market garden plots for smallholders. The government will have ownership of the expanded bulk water system (upon completion) whose construction began in July 2019. Alongside this, additional ORIO grant funding and private sector investment has been mobilised to roll out the much larger Chiansi project to three neighbouring communities.
Having identified a lack of safe and adequate pre and post-natal facilities in Chanyanya, InfraCo Africa secured grant funding from PIDG’s Technical Assistance (TA) to build a maternity clinic, and construction work has begun. Equipment and staff for the unit will be provided by the Zambian government.