By HELEN WITTI
GOVERNMENT impressed with the Zambia Integrated Forestry Landscape Project (ZIFL-P) implementation in Eastern province.
Ministry of National Development Planning Permanent Secretary, Chola Chabala was speaking when he toured Eastern province to check on the project implementation.
Mr Chabala said he was so far happy with what the beneficiaries of the project are doing.
In Nyimba district, Mr Chabala visited the two benefiting groups namely; Mtilizi cooperative society and Mwansanika community forest group.
He said it was pleasing to see how both groups in Nyimba have used the 25 percent of their project total sum.
Mr Chabala disclosed that the project has two key components that. These are smart agriculture implementation and forestry management.
He said government is already seeing results with farmers who are implementing smart agriculture as evidenced by the record of production rate which is twice the national level.
Mr Chabala cited one group that he visited in Petauke district which has recorded 5 metric tonnes of maize per hectare while the national average is at 2.3 metric tonnes per hectare.
He noted that with the current bumper harvest of 3.6 million metric tonnes recorded by the country, if farmers are to apply what lead farmers are doing in Eastern province, the country can record 7.2 million metric tonnes in one farming season.
He added that this move entails that Zambia can flood Malawi, DR Congo and indeed other neighboring countries with maize.
Mr Chabala said government’s call for diversification of the economy to agriculture with less dependence on mining is key.
He also revealed that under forestry management there is an aspect of getting carbon credits which is happening in some communities in Eastern province.
Mr Chabala said through enhanced forestry management and carbon trading, the communities are able to get some resources that they can use as opportunity cost for sustainable use of management of forestry.
He noted that carbon trading enhances livelihoods as it is sustainable and makes the community less dependent on the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) and hand-outs.
Mr Chabala further added that ZIFL-P is one of the key project that has been properly designed with an in-built sustainability component.
And Mwansanika Community Forest Group Vice Chairperson, Harriet Daka has thanked government for the support rendered to the community.
Ms Daka revealed that the group is currently managing more than 13, 000 hectares of community forestry and the results are evident.
“We are now enjoying the forestry products such as honey and mushrooms,” she said.
She said before the project the people leaving in her area were depending on charcoal burning which is the thing of the passed now as they have been educated on the benefits of preserving the forestry. -NAIS
By HELEN WITTI