Eastern Province is one of the major food baskets for Zambia. The area is predominantly a farming community and women account for 83% of small scale farmers. The major crops include maize (staple food), groundnuts, cotton, and tobacco. While the majority of the 1.7 million people in Eastern Province are farmers, this has created another challenge as poverty levels are still high. The rural communities account for about 78% of people living in abject and/or severe poverty. This means that the small but viable farmers who are predominantly women who continue to be used as cheap labor. As a way of improving their economic status, Kachere has introduced the initiative called ‘Reducing Poverty and Deforestation through Food Security and Agroforestry among Self-Help Groups’.
The program is using an integrated approach model of promoting conservation farming while strengthening the Natural Resource Management at grassroot level. For a long time, the rural farmers have used farming methods that have contributed to land degradation and deforestation. The project has now provided technical support in agriculture diversification and will run this program for the period 2012 to 2014. This will see the introduction of other forms of agriculture such as fish farming and introduction of new but profitable crops such as soya beans, cow peas, upland rice, horticulture and also market chain systems to boost agribusiness. The project is working with 806 people in the communities of Mphanga and Chipungo sites of Chipata district.