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Mid Term Review of COMACO Phase II “Up-scaling across the Luangwa Valley”

Operating as a food-processing and agro-marketing company and with support from the Royal Norwegian Embassy, the COMACO project links small-scale farmers to market-based incentives through a process that encourages environmentally-friendly livelihood practices. The strategy relies on a near vertical integration of farm commodities to finished food-processed products that offers producers sufficient market incentives to affect these behavioral changes. This also relies on an approach that builds a low-cost farmer extension organization around large numbers of farmers structured into farmer producer groups for facilitating a more rapid uptake of new skills for a more resilient adaptation against climate change and market perturbations. Additionally, it operates on a landscape scale that will improve the protection of biodiversity and watershed resources, reduce carbon emissions, and reduce fallow periods for increased sustainability of farm yields and non-timber forest products.

With eight years of pilot testing this model throughout much of Luangwa Valley and with a growing body of evidence confirming its effectiveness, COMACO offers a self-financing approach for sustaining increased food crop diversification, household food security, household incomes, and a continued pathway for improving farmer-based land use practices. Based on a contract with the Norwegian Embassy signed on 11th June 2009, the COMACO project received a 5-year grant to expand the COMACO model across the Luangwa Valley with an overall project goal of "Realizing a healthy Luangwa Valley ecosystem maintained by ecologically safe markets that sustain and integrate social, economic and environmental benefits for resource-poor households in order to increase the resilience of rural people to the effects of climate change and global market perturbations”.

Activities under this project are intended to achieve two main results:

  1. Improved trends for healthy ecosystem functions and conservation success driven by self-financing markets in the east and progressively self-financing markets in the west that sustain increasing levels of household food security and income
  2. Increased capacity and synergies among COMACO actors to build added value benefits to conservation, markets and lessons learned for promoting adoption of COMACO elsewhere

Furthermore the Objectives of this project include:

  1. To implement a scalable business model that drives households to collectively and responsibly work together as a community to sustainably increase food and income security through improved resource management and farming practices that promote healthy ecosystem functions and improved conservation of renewable resources across the Luangwa Valley ecosystem.
  2. To provide a well-developed institutional capacity by program staff and local stakeholders to build broader applications of COMACO under existing national policy frameworks while disseminating results, best practices and lessons-learned for information for potential partners on how to replicate the model elsewhere.

The main purpose of the review is to assess project activities that have commenced since the start of the COMACO Phase Two project to the current date.

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