Land O Lakes has launched a K1 billion project to build communities’ resilience against climate and economic shocks through increased livestock assets base for farmers in Dowa and Ntchisi.
The Livestock for Resilience (L4R) project seeks to reduce high dependency on maize production, which leaves households vulnerable to hunger and poverty resulting from climate change inconsistencies.
“In the past, farmers have typically relied on rain-fed agriculture, but unfortunately cyclical droughts, inconsistent precipitation patterns and floods have oftentimes left communities of Dowa and Ntchisi hardest hit where between 20 and 40 percent of households do not have enough food.
“We are looking at facilitating diversification of livelihood activities by increasing the adaptive capacity and self-sufficiency of vulnerable households,” explained Victor Mhango, Land O Lakes chief of party on Friday in Dowa during an L4R stakeholders workshop.
He said livestock strengthens resilience against natural disasters and economic woes in ordinary farming communities.
Said Mhango: “Livestock ensure that households realise economic opportunities. For instance, farmers can benefit from selling of meat, milk, eggs and stock once numbers reach sufficient levels and this ensures all-year-round source of income.
“Apart from that, livestock are also of huge nutritional benefit as well as provision of manure for crops. We believe the project will greatly reduce social and economic impact of disasters by addressing the underlying factors of food insecurity and income diversification.”
He said L4R project is targeting 30 000 beneficiaries, especially those that have suffered over three months of food insecurity each year for the past two years and those who have limited access to land.
“The beneficiaries are those that have less than two hectares of arable land, individuals whose income is less than $1.25 [K634] a day, women or youth-headed households or those affected by HIV and Aids, high dependency ratio like the disabled and elderly, people who depend on piecework or wage labour at least part of the year and, of course, individuals who do not have any external sources of routine remittances,” said Mhango.
He said the L4R project will actively target women who will constitute 50 percent of beneficiaries at a minimum and ensure full participation and benefit.
In his presentation, L4R monitoring and evaluation specialist Austin Bondo said the baseline study Land O Lakes undertook before rolling out the project, revealed that 13 percent of women in the two districts are widowed, one percent are single and only 26.4 percent completed primary school education.
He also said 79 percent of livestock are sold to vendors.