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Sweet Harvest, Zambia

  • Definition
    Devising project idea, defining the aim and main components
  • Design
    Specifying details such as time-frame, budget, target indicators, project partners and relevant steps to reach the project objectives
  • Financing
    Searching and securing funding and investment, setting up relevant financing partnerships, and discussing payment modalities
  • Implementation
    Execution of feasibility studies, context analysis, plot design, planting and setting up facilities and starting with potential capacity-building
  • Maintenance
    Operational phase (monitoring and evaluation, impact assessments and adjustments, execution of educational programmes and long-term capacity building)
  • Scaling Up
    Scaling up phase is when the project it has already shown success by obtaining impact as well as economic results and it's ready to become replicable.

The Sweet Harvest initiative aims to improve rural communities’ income and food security in Zambia by establishing market links, functioning as a social enterprise in processing and marketing products, and teaching farmers in regenerative agroforestry practices. 

Sweet Harvest, in collaboration with reNature, aims to raise a large number of farmers out of poverty through a service delivery model in an outgrower scheme and upscale effect through a franchise-style structure with many Model Farms and Model Schools for regenerative agroforestry methods. These will aid in the fight against deforestation by providing farmers with sustainable firewood while also improving lives and growing/including a variety of food crops.

The first target group is the 1,500 farmers who are currently connected to Sweet Harvest  through a honey outgrower scheme; the second phase will expand to several Model Farms and Model Schools, bringing the total number of farmers to over 20,000. 

Packing the final honey produce / Source: Sweet Harvest

Losing forest at an alarming rate 

Zambia’s rural population is impoverished, with an unsustainable reliance on charcoal as an energy source and a food security reliance on monocropped maize. Despite widespread awareness of deforestation’s catastrophic impacts on soil fertility, a poverty trap and a lack of alternatives have resulted in an alarming pace of deforestation of 300,000 hectares per year.

According to the Center for International Forestry Research, the complete forest cover might be gone by 2030 if current trends continue. Alternative agricultural models are needed to promote food security, boost farmer livelihoods, and mitigate the rapid loss of forests and soil fertility.

Strong roots, strong foundation

reNature will establish a Model Farm and Model School to showcase and build capacity in regenerative agroforestry as a means of diversifying revenue, generating a sustainable supply of fuel, and making agricultural methods more regenerative. These efforts will be directly related to the service delivery approach of Dytech Ltd., the firm that owns the Sweet Harvest brand.

Dytech aspires to be Zambia’s leading processor and supplier of branded organic and fair-trade foods. The social enterprise plans to expand their honey outgrower model and introduce new products such as fruits, vegetables, and other tree crops like pongamia. 

Avocado Seedlings / Source: Sweet Harvest

With greater investment, a new focus will be placed on value addition by branding and processing produce before exporting it under the Sweet Harvest brand. Dytech Ltd will assist farmers in transitioning from maize-dominated subsistence agriculture to varied, regenerative agroforestry systems, as well as provide services such as the establishment of a knowledge center and function as a buyer and processor of the products. 

The goal of this project is to develop a more diverse value chain based on a regenerative manufacturing paradigm. Smallholder farmers will be empowered to construct profitable agroforestry systems that benefit their livelihoods as well as the local environment through the outgrower scheme and a tailored capacity-building program. 

Local environment restoration 

The display of regenerative agroforestry practices will demonstrate that rural populations can have sustainable livelihoods without further destruction and even while expanding forest cover. It will show how value chain development and environmental conservation may go hand in hand, inspiring local youth to adopt a more sustainable way of life. 

Sweet Harvest intends to incorporate indigenous crops of the area, such as African Leafy Greens and local sweet potato varieties, in addition to popular foreign crops like avocado and mango, to illustrate the use and relevance of native flora. 

Source: Sweet Harvest

The addition of timber trees will reduce the need for obtaining firewood for charcoal from communal land woods, which contributes to deforestation. The inclusion of a variety of tree species will provide multiple ecosystem services such as carbon storage, biodiversity, soil fertility and increased water retention. The tolerance to droughts of the natural and farming system by conserving the soil and increasing forest cover. 

More than just an ecological impact

The project has a strong gender equality focus and builds on the Sweet Harvest team’s past efforts to boost female farmer livelihoods and girls’ school enrolment. Pongamia trees (leguminous trees) will be specifically integrated into the system to encourage communities to transition away from cutting down trees for firewood/charcoal and instead use the seeds for biofuel and the pods for briquette charcoal production. 

Source: Sweet Harvest

The initiative will have a direct and indirect impact on food and nutritional security by transitioning from maize-based production systems to one that uses a variety of vegetables and fruits, as well as having more revenue available to buy food during times of scarcity. The diversification of income will improve livelihood resilience to pests and weather-related shocks. 

The Sweet Harvest initiative has a well-defined plan for obtaining, processing, and marketing the initiative’s commodities. Sweet Harvest has previously obtained off-take agreements for honey with companies in the EU and China, and it wants to expand those prospects to include fruits and vegetables.

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