Experts at First Quantum Minerals (FQM) have developed an interactive map that pinpoints the smallholder farms supported under its Kansanshi Foundation conservation farming (CF) programme, enabling them to better tailor interventions to improve food security around its operations in North-Western Province.
The publicly accessible online site, which is the brainchild of the Kansanshi Foundation team, displays maps and data that illustrate how the CF programme has gained and maintained momentum.
“The idea for the interactive site was developed after the mining firm identified an information gap on publicly available data on conservation farming, and also on the need to maximise efficiency on monitoring and evaluation of the programme,” explained Kansanshi Mine resettlement supervisor Michael Longhurst.
The interactive map and data offers a rare bird’s-eye view of the scale of conservation farming around the mine’s areas of operation, while also providing a research tool for various stakeholders and interested parties, added Longhurst. No personal data is stored on the site, however.
“The success of integrating technology has allowed the FQM team to identify areas of weakness and strength in the programme while supporting the farmers, resulting in improvement of results,” he said.
In the 2019/20 season the farmers under the programme had a bumper harvest, producing 6,000 tonnes of maize.
The CF project started in 2010 with seven pilot plots measuring a total of 1.5 hectares. Currently, there are over 7,000 participants growing over 1500 hectares of mixed crops, mainly maize, groundnuts and soya beans.
Under the project, the mining firm provides education, close monitoring, and input loans to farmers. The system revolves around a sustainable permaculture rotation of maize, Solwezi beans, cow peas, soya beans and groundnuts with minimum tillage, use of mulch, and training farmers on the importance of early planting.
Conservation farming is now acknowledged by the Zambian government as the best practice for maximising yields whilst combating climate change and soil degradation.
The map can be viewed at https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/47810e9b156e48c082e046649ccca8ef
Source: Langmead & Baker