farmers receive training and monthly newsletters that communicate
about the project, share learned “best practices” on farming,
and encourage tree planting and forest preservations.
farmers receive training on new soil preparation and planting techniques,
weeding, storage. Future programs development may also focus on marketing
and improved business management of smallholder farms.
approach to conservation farming is based on the U.N. Food and Agricultural
Organization’s handbook on conservation farming that was developed
in neighbouring Zambia . Conservation farming practices include:
spacing of planting
Use of holes rather than rows for water conservation
Use of compost or manure for fertilization
combined with the improved seed (including drought resistant seed) food
yield could increase four-fold on existing farmland. Participants are
encouraged to diversify crop selection.
aim underlying conservation farming is to stabilize food supply in the
area on existing farmland. Recent droughts have led to famine and death.
Current farming practices also deplete soils of nutrients, forcing farmers
to seek new farmland – at the expense of remaining forest. With
declining forest comes declining water tables, which then lead to more
drought. Conservation farming is designed to break that cycle.
improved yield, farmers also require technical assistance on storage and
handling of crops after harvest. Most farmers today sell much of their
grain at harvest - when prices are lowest. TIST helps farmers create surplus
and develop strategies to store surplus. Participants will be encouraged
through harvest loans to hold some grain in storage until prices are higher.
TIST can build upon the local business practices and the commercial infrastructure
necessary for larger scale farming and business management through assessments
of local needs followed by appropriate training and technical assistance.
Commercial farming for example requires an increased use of the Internet,
increased use of banking systems, clarification of legal structures, increased
use of transportation, and new training techniques. These changes will
elevate the base level of skill sets, competencies, and infrastructure
within the region as the program grows from pilot into commercial operation.
This will grow the capabilities of the region and improve the area's capacity
to support a diversity of economic activities far beyond tree planting.