The Simalaha Conservancy is situated in the hart of the Barotse Kingdom. It used to be part of a wildlife corridor, where animals would migrate between Botswana and Kafue, a national park in Zambia. However, the wildlife has largely disappeared from this area and it has been badly damaged by deforestation. The good news is that the people in the community, led by their Senior Chief Inyambo Yeta of the Sesheke District and Chief Sekute of the Kasangula District, have a strong desire and intention to restore the natural landscape and bring wildlife back into the region.
Farmers in the area currently engage in slash and burn agriculture and farm mainly maize. Maize gives relatively low income, and is very difficult to grow in a changing climate sensitive landscape. With the growing population, slash and burn methods require more and more land from nature and it becomes increasingly challenging to sustain the farmers’ income.
The local community has taken steps to restore the natural balance with the help of NGOs such as the Peace Parks Foundation. If you’re interested in finding out more you can watch SABC’s 50/50 programme on the area. Peace Parks has supported the community to bring back giraffe, zebra and other animals into a conservancy area. For expansion of the natural landscape, it is critical that people and nature find a productive balance and the means to work together, rather than against each other. At Grounded we aided this vital process by bringing together a group of committed large and small-scale farmers and area experts.
Together we are finding alternatives to maize which are more profitable and more sustainable, and where value can be added by agricultural processing. Processing can be very profitable and enable better prices and secure a market for the farmers involved. We will increase the scope of our operations once we are running successfully.