A collaborative model for value added and safe food production in Zambia
Moraru, C. I.
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Zambia, a country of about 12 million people located in Sub-Saharan Africa, is currently affected by the “triple threat” of poor governance, high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, and chronic and acute food insecurity. Over 60 percent of the people in Zambia live in rural areas, with limited access to clean water, electricity, and quality education. Development of agriculture and food production could be key for the development of the country and for pulling the impoverished masses into a more healthy and sustainable class. COMACO, a local cooperative organization that operates in the Luangwa Valley, has made significant efforts in recent years to improve the livelihoods for rural farmers in Zambia. Adding value to the locally grown food crops through processing was identified as a critical component for the long-term success and sustainability of COMACO. This paper will illustrate how a collaborative effort between Cornell University and COMACO, with financial support from USAID and additional support from the US Company General Mills, has helped enhance the technical capabilities and human resources at COMACO. The key issues that were the object of this collaboration include: 1) capacity building for hygienic and safe food processing; and 2) expanding the range of value added foods processed within COMACO through collaborative product development efforts, as a means for economical growth. The paper will illustrate some of the challenges, as well as the most significant successes of this collaborative effort. This work is viewed as an example of how well focused efforts can help alleviate poverty and hunger in Africa, by building the human resources and better using the natural resources of the country. Ultimately, this can lead to sustainable development of the region and diminished dependence on foreign aid. (Authors' abstract)