Last week USAID’s Southern Africa Trade Hub visited four Strategic Partnership Grant (SPG) activity sites in Zambia including VetLabs, Lumuno Organic Farms, COMACO, and NWK to perform due diligence on grant implementation and benchmark successes to date. The grants are leveraging the skills, knowledge, and technology of South African companies to address agricultural issues in Feed the Future countries related to laboratory testing, groundnut processing, crop diversification and increased soil fertility, and decreasing malnutrition.
A Strategic Partnership grant through Deltamune is enabling the VetLabs facility in Lusaka to become the first ISO 17025 accredited lab in Zambia. The grant includes intensive training of VetLabs staff on microtoxins, aflatoxin, and a forthcoming Quality Management System, as well as upgrading of the current facility. Deltamune has already successfully upgraded the water system to provide continuous clean water, serviced all chemistry equipment, and procured new aflatoxin kits.
In Chongwe, the Trade Hub visited Lumuno Organic Farms, which is upgrading its chili sauce processing capacity and smallholder farmer outgrower scheme through a Strategic Partnership Grant to Zhauns. Under the SPG, Lumuno has successfully engaged 300 farmers, 70% of whom are women, to grow chilies, onions, and garlic organically for production of Lumuno chili sauce. Due to the steady demand for the sauce, farmers are assured of a ready market, which has greatly increased their motivation to engage. Lumuno has already trained the first group of 50 farmers in organic farming practices, and the remaining trainings are scheduled for June. Equipment upgrades provided through the grant will increase production capacity from the current average of 5,000 bottles per month to 15,000 bottles, enabling Lumuno to explore regional export.
A Strategic Partnership Grant through Ammtech is assisting COMACO, an organic farming and production organization in Chipata, to upgrade their peanut butter processing line from its current limited operation. As a result of the grant, COMACO will increase production of peanut butter from 13 tons per week to 50–60 tons and will be able to shell 200 tons of groundnuts per hour, a major improvement from its current 3 tons per hour. The improved capacity will double the amount of groundnuts purchased from COMACO’s 45,000 groundnut farmers, 53% of whom are women, and will allow COMACO to gain HAACP certification. As a result, COMACO will be able to pursue regional exports and expansion of peanut butter varieties, including a high nutrition version.
Lastly, the Trade Hub visited Katete in the Eastern Province to assess the impact of a Strategic Partnership Grant with NWK that introduced soybeans into smallholder farmer crop rotation to improve soil quality, add cash flow, and improve nutrition at the household level. NWK sponsored 850 farmers with training and inputs to introduce soy into their crop rotation and purchased 5,000 metric tons of soy from those farmers in 2014 (numbers for 2015 are forthcoming). NWK reported a major improvement in soil fertility due to the introduction of soy as well as the soil mapping activities conducted under the grant, which helped farmers select best-suited fertilizers. The grant also enabled NWK to educate farmers on the nutritional benefits of soy and demonstrate recipes including soymilk and sausages. Farmers were encouraged to keep a portion of their yield for household consumption to increase household nutrition and health.
Photos (Clockwise from top left): 1) As a result of the Strategic Partnership Grant, the VetLabs facility will be the first ISO 17025 accredited lab in Zambia, capable of performing aflatoxin tests and many others; 2) The part-owner of Lumuno Organics explains the various processes involved in the production of chili sauce; 3) A COMACO worker picks up spilled groundnuts; COMACO’s operations will be upgraded to a more streamlined operation as a result of the grant; 4) A smallholder farmer has his soybeans checked for moisture content before sale at the NWK trading center.