Simalaha, Zambia

Creating a real impact for the agricultural economy of the Simalaha

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Regenerative production of spices and vegetables

The Simalaha is a wildlife corridor connecting the Chobe and Kafue protected areas between Botswana and southern Zambia. Elephants once roamed freely in this area, but wildlife has now largely disappeared. Efforts to restore a corridor for animals to migrate across borders again are underway. Meanwhile, the farmers living next to the corridor are struggling. Because of the poor soils and variable rainfall, they have often resorted to quick-fix agricultural tactics like slash-and-burn, putting greater pressure on the forests and the wildlife.

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Grounded has been working in this area for quite a while, and we have learned a lot from navigating this complex ecosystem. Initially, we tested a large-scale outgrower model for peanut-farming in hopes of creating enough financial incentive for small-holdings bordering the conservancy to switch to regenerative farming. However, working in a scattered area with hundreds of farmers at once made for extremely challenging logistics, and uncertain impact. Because the dirt roads in the Simalaha are often waterlogged in the rainy season, buying produce from farmers at harvest time was next to impossible–nevermind monitoring their regenerative practices.

But most importantly, we realised that working in this way ultimately meant shallower impact. Trying to support many farmers in an already low-production system would only bring incremental changes to their food and income security –not much was likely to improve for them and their families 10 years, or one generation down the line. So we switched our strategy completely, focusing instead on a centralized farming system where we could work with a few farmers on a high investment, high value regenerative farm, while hopefully increasing their profits significantly as well.

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We are now developing a ‘regenerative incubator farm’, where spices and vegetables are grown to sell in local markets. With increased quality, we hope to sell a portion for export to access premium prices.

We believe that investing more resources in a few promising farmers has the potential to create real impact for the agricultural economy of the Simalaha, and so many rural landscapes like it.

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Products

Spices

We work towards a premium selection of aromatic spices used as top-quality ingredients for cooking, or a host of alternative purposes from natural remedies to teas. Organically grown and locally processed, we aim to produce ginger, turmeric, garlic and chile of the highest caliber.

Vegetables

A diverse selection of regenerative organic vegetables will be grown on seasonal rotation to ensure the highest levels of productivity, and quality of flavor and nutrition.

Landscape Partners

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