Zambia has a plentiful rainy season, however farmers struggle to grow crops all year round. The Government of Zambia is committed to pro-poor agricultural development, and has identified irrigation as the key to increasing yields and enhancing food security. To date, irrigation has been largely restricted to commercial-scale agriculture. A lack of capital and scale prevented Zambia’s majority smallholder farmers from implementing irrigation schemes which could significantly increase the country’s agricultural productivity.
InfraCo Africa, through its principal developer eleQtra, was approached by a group of smallholder and commercial farmers in Zambia’s Kafue District, in 2006. The group needed support to create a viable irrigation scheme. The development of the Chanyanya pilot which resulted in a co-operative, pooling smallholder land to achieve the scale required to irrigate a 148 hectare commercial farm and eight hectares of market gardens to grow food and cash crops year-round.
Having provided proof of concept, grant funding was secured from the Dutch ORIO Infrastructure Fund to expand the original bulk water infrastructure to increase Chanyanya’s irrigated land area, and to support development of the nearby Chiansi project. Chiansi will replicate and scale up the pilot, establishing a 1,336 hectare commercial farm and market garden plots for up to 960 smallholders in three neighbouring communities: Chikupi, Demu North and Demu South. Regional private investor SUDECO will build, own and operate Chiansi’s commercial farm. InfraCo Africa is providing $12.5m of senior debt, alongside $5m in TAF viability gap funding, to fund construction.
Working with farmers in the Kafue District, a replicable model has been developed which has informed the Chiansi scheme and World Bank irrigation initiatives in Zambia and Ghana. The expansion of Chanyanya and new Chiansi project will irrigate more than 1,600 hectares of additional land.
With a year-round supply of water, Chanyanya’s smallholder farmers have diversified their crops, reporting increased incomes and food security. Chiansi will facilitate the establishment of market garden committees to enable agricultural knowledge and technical knowhow to be shared, improving land productivity and so household incomes.
Leveraging grant funding has enabled the government to acquire ownership of bulk water assets with sufficient capacity to irrigate up to 3,800 hectares of land, enabling more farmers in the area to access irrigation in the future.
Gardening is all I want, as long as I am able to buy a car, pay for my children to go to school and provide for my family, that’s all I want.