Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre works on the ground with farmers living in Chongwe and Rufunsa Districts of Zambia, where agriculture is the primary livelihood. In recent years, these districts have experienced massive deforestation, driven in large part by demand for firewood and charcoal. As a result, firewood is scarce. Poor agricultural practices and long term intensive use of synthetic chemical inputs, such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides, have severely degraded soils and reduced agricultural yields. Changing rainfall patterns have brought drought and dried up streams, further endangering farmer livelihoods.
Reaching over 10,000 small-scale farmers, KATC provides agricultural training, extension services, research and marketing support to local farmers. The center maintains a production unit where dairy cows, sheep and other livestock are raised and the milk is sold to a local milk processor. Through extension services and direct training to farmers, the center has helped increase local maize yields to levels well above the national average, resulting in greater food security and improved incomes. Crop rotation, reforestation, new irrigation schemes and agricultural diversification have all contributed to increased availability of different food types, improved food security, better nutrition and the conservation and sustainable use of local ecosystems. Biodiversity fairs have been used to help farmers share knowledge on local varieties of seeds, crop diversity, apiculture and agroforestry techniques. The center has facilitated a village saving initiative, which has enabled several women to access capital to start small-scale enterprises. Conversion to organic agriculture using KATC methods has increased the cash income of local farmers by more than 800 percent over the course of two agricultural seasons. Outreach and training projects have increased food produced for household consumption by 170 percent, and promoted a diversified diet.
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