OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Promoting a Sustainable and Nourishing Agricultural and Food System (PSNAF)

"An agriculture that nourishes a growing population in a warmer climate while stewarding the soil and the diversity of plants."

Photo of thresa bwalya
2 2

Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Zambia Alliance of Women(ZAW)

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small NGO (under 50 employees)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 10+ years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?


Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Choma is a town in the Southern province of Zambia which covers a total land area of 4278.04 square kilometers

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Zambia Alliance Women (ZAW) has over the past 40 years worked in 7 provinces; distinguished among which is Southern Province where Choma district is found. Choma is one of the few districts that have faced serious threats when it comes to issues of health and food security. As of 2019; research shows that more than 20,000 households have been threatened with hunger following the drought that was experienced during the 2018/2019 rain season (Mast Newspaper, Ben Mbangu, and 29th July 2019). Unlike in the past where the district was only faced with hunger situation, it currently is facing water problems and is at risk of losing livestock due to a number of diseases that have broken in are as a result of water and pasture shortage.

ZAW has been working closely with its member who is communities in Choma implementing a project “Enhancing Food Security through Sustainable Natural Resources Management under the Non Governmental gender Organizations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) basket fund supported by the European Union. ZAW has implemented a number of successful projects with women and girls as major beneficiaries in Choma and has built a strong relationship with Ministry of Agriculture in the district and other line ministries such as Ministry of Commerce. Examples of such projects are the “ENHACING WOMEN PARTICIPATION IN SUSTAINABLE NATURAL RESOURCES MANAGEMENT” funded by the European Union (EU), and “WOMEN LAND RIGHTS” funded by the Netherlands Institute for Southern Africa (NIZA). ZAW has trained over 300 women and girls in Choma district in Climate Smart Agriculture and as an organization ZAW has constantly been in touch with its beneficiaries and regularly conducted monitoring visits to check on how best communities are using the knowledge, thus making the organisation well connected with people of Choma. Implementing another project in the area would lessen the risks of acceptance and support from the locals.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Choma is a market town and capital of the Southern Province of Zambia, lying on the main road and railway line from Lusaka to Livingstone. It is a district forms the heart of the southern province because it’s central location, but more so due to its important role that southern province plays to the economy of Zambia by virtue of it being a tourist province and its contribution to the country’s growth in agriculture.

Like every district in Zambia, there exists a traditional authority (Chiefdom) in Choma district. The main chief’s areas are Macha, Mapanza and Singani (Cooma). The chiefs’ areas are further administered according to the villages under the leadership of the village under the leadership of the village headmen who act as the chiefs’ representatives. There are a total of 446 villages in the district which are further broken down as follows Macha chiefdom has 72 villages, Singani chiefdom has 137 village and Mapanza chiefdom has 56 villages (Central Statistics Office 2000 report)

The pattern of settlement has been highly influenced by the existence of a number of commercial farms, which surround the district especially along the line of rail. The Great North Road passes through the district, dissecting the district in two uneven parts. Within a radius of up to 100m, farms surround the district while the rest of the hinterland accommodates arable land for the small-scale type of agriculture.

The majority of the population in Choma is engaged in agriculture as a source of income. The main economic sector in Choma is driven by agriculture, trade and commerce and tourism. The agriculture sector significant role in the local economy of Choma and southern province in general. This is seen in the number of both commercial and small-scale farmers we have in the district. The informal sector is characterized by fish trading, trading in second hand and new clothes and footwear, trading in vegetables and other foods, beer brewing, carpentry, trading in groceries, restaurants, bars and charcoal burning and selling

Choma Town is home to a small museum dedicated to the cultural heritage of the Tonga people of southern Zambia. The Choma museum contributes towards the collection, documentation, exhibition, preservation of the heritage of Zambia. The Museum is committed to the preservation of physical and intangible heritage through the education department for the past years in the symbols of peace and unity programs ,due to its significant contribution to the preservation of the history and culture of the Tonga people ,the Ministry of Chief and Traditional Affairs through the National Museum Board on 12th November, 2016 declared Choma Museums as a National Museum, this is because it has a history of over 44years as a community museums mainly focusing on the culture of the Tonga plateau by documenting the social effects of the Kariba dam on the Gwembe Valley

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.


Since the declaration of Choma as southern province capital the population has grown putting pressure on Lands for agriculture and infrastructure use causing the clearing of huge amounts of land and, this growth has also brought about an increase in the demand for energy, and for a district that is dominant in the use of wood fuel which accounts for 70% of total energy consumption this has brought about an increase in deforestation which has over the recent years affected the environment greatly.


 Choma consumes about 40,000 metric tons per year but it only produced 7,345 metric tons in 2018/2019 season making it impossible to meet the demand. 

As the diet in Choma is heavily dominated by maize, food security is often equated with maize production, or the ability of households to acquire enough calories from maize. In Zambia, 40.1 per cent of children under five are suffering from stunted growth in height — a manifestation of chronic under nutrition — ranging from 35.7 per cent in Lusaka Province to 48.5 per cent in Northern Province.(HIVOS Discussion Paper 2019 on Sustainable Diets 4ALL Project)


 In Choma like everywhere else in Zambia, agriculture production is focused on one staple cereal: maize. While the second National Agriculture Policy may address this, agricultural production has been heading away from making crop diversity and health diets available.


The interrupted electricity supply is costing the local food production industry millions every month and could be depriving Zambia of quality nutrition because the consumers are unable to access fresh products at time.

Economically, the maize exports and its related items have also declined. Maize production in Zambia dropped 16 per cent to two million tons in 2018/19 farming season compared to a year earlier.


Due to lack of proper technology in the food industry Zambia has been unable to produce higher crop productivity, decreased use of water, fertilizer and pesticides which in turn keeps food prices down.


This should anchor on regional comparative advantages if the sector will have to bear the expected results. For instance if the soils in the eastern province favor the growing of groundnuts, then strategies to encourage the people of the province to specialize and concentrate on groundnuts away from the growing of maize. This does not mean that people in the region should abandon the growing of maize but it should not be done at the expense of growing other crops that can create wealth for the country just because people want to satisfy their tummies with nshima.


Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

In implementing our vision, the challenges that the 6 thematic areas: Diets, Environment, Policy, Technology, Culture and Economics are face will be dealt with. Our vision is focusing on working with and through people. The following are the objectives;

Main objective

  • To promote a diverse food and agricultural system that nourishes a growing population while mitigating climate change by 2050


  1. To build capacity in 1000 women and youths in Choma to be local food ambassadors embracing food diversity by 2030

  2. Lobby and advocate for policies and laws that promote food diversity and indigenous seed multiplication by end 2030.

Activities under specific objective 1

ZAW will work with the community Small Holder Farmers who are its biggest stakeholder in this vision, because whoever controls the farm controls what ends up on the table. The training that will be done during Climate Smart Agriculture will include topics such as conservation farming which help keep the environment safe and help mitigate climate change. Conservation farming calls for minimum soil disturbance which in turn brings about good water retention, preservation of important organisms for fixation, prevents loss of soil nutrient due to soil erosion, Rotation of crop residue as opposed to burning despite low adoption rates Conservation Farming in general is labour intensive and this leads to low adoption rates among Small Holder Farming however we will focus on the benefits that comes with this kind of farming as opposed to using conventional farming . And the benefits of Conservation such as High yield due to high growth rate cheaper land preparation will help boast the income of these home and later contribute significantly to the GDP. As highlighted above when our farms contrast the two types of farming one will realize that conservation farming out weighs conventional farming.

Other topics such as crop diversification and seed banking strategies will be taught 

Activities under specific objective 2

ZAW with Different stakeholders in Non Governmental Organisation spaces will hold a policy review  and make submissions for improvement especially on the implementation part which has been dormant for a long time.

 Meetings with traditional leaders will be one of the activities that will help address the problems that culture has brought upon the food system.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

the overall change expected is an agriculture and food system that nourishes a growing population in a warmer climate while stewarding the soil and the diversity of plants and animals that sustain us, and to have a Choma in which women, children and men have an improved standard of living as a minimum requirement for human dignity by empowering women to take charge of their lives through promotion of diverse diets, gender equity & equality, environmental sustainability through climate smart farming practices and social justice so that the right to a healthy life is enjoyed by the now and future generations come 2050.” we want to influence women farmers to start shifting their focus on growing maize but rather start growing other crops that can withstand the current climate condition and crops that do not need a lot of water to survive such as sorghum and cassava and take the lead in the production and consumption of food in their homes citing as they have the power to influence what type of food is prepared and put on the tables for consumption.

By 2050 the use of Digital technologies by farmers will significantly reduce the costs of linking sellers and buyers; reduce inequalities in access to information, knowledge, technologies and markets; help farmers make more precise decisions on resource management by providing, processing, and analyzing an increasing amount of data faster; and potentially reduce scale economies in agriculture, thereby making small-scale producers more competitive.

 We want to build a culture that will address the inclusion of young folks in the food system for they have the potential to innovate towards a more sustainable food system by 2050. Further ZAW expects to see agricultural policies that will promote and bound farmers to practice diversification and farming systems that are climate smart ensure food security in the country.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Our vision for a future sustainable food system

The food and agricultural systems are facing urgent sustainability challenges that require dramatic shifts in ways of both producing and consuming food and thinking about sustainability in a broader perspective. We know that food and food production have a direct impact on human health, the planet's well-being, and economic development. The agro-food system is estimated to account for about 30% of our greenhouse gases, of which 80% is related to the livestock sector. We also know that agriculture today is facing a range of urgent sustainability challenges, including climate change, biodiversity loss, soil degradation, nutrient leakage, environmental pollution, rural decline and economic and social hardship for farmers

Our vision is an agriculture that nourishes a growing population in a warmer climate while stewarding the soil and the diversity of plants and animals that sustain us. Such agriculture provides meaningful jobs moving towards a solar-based and circular economy while revitalizing rural communities and re-valuing the important work that farmers do for society. It is characterized by more localized food networks that bring producers and consumers closer together. It reduces soil disturbances and even builds soils, thus retaining nutrients and restoring the ecological integrity of agricultural lands. It relies on the use of agrochemicals – fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides–only in exceptional cases rather than as normal practice. It is also based on crop diversity in space and time and the cultivation of hardy and resilient perennial species, reducing the risks associated with extreme weather events and pest infestations. This future landscape not only protects from soil erosion and environmental pollution, it also helps mitigate climate change through decreased agricultural inputs and a significant increase in soil carbon sequestration. ZAW is already working towards that in three provinces namely; southern, eastern and central provinces by training more than 300 women farmers in climate smart agriculture in order to compliment the ongoing climate change calls for what the Food and Agricultural Commission of the United Nations (FAO) calls Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) whose three major components are sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes; adapting and building resilience to climate change; and reducing and/or removing greenhouse gases emissions, where possible. The overall aim of adapting CSA is to secure food security which is clearly under threat as a result of climate change but also, in the Zambia case as elsewhere, to increase the incomes of farmers who are largely women.

Therefore, in narrowing it down to our target, “our vision is to see and have a Choma district in the southern part of Zambia With an agriculture and food system that nourishes a growing population in a warmer climate while stewarding the soil and the diversity of plants and animals that sustain us, and to have a Choma in which women, children and men have an improved standard of living as a minimum requirement for human dignity by empowering women to take charge of their lives through promotion of diverse diets, gender equity & equality, environmental sustainability through climate smart farming practices and social justice so that the right to a healthy life is enjoyed by the now and future generations come 2050.”

Our vision is to see technology playing a big role in developing the agricultural industry in Choma and the entire country. Today it is possible to grow crops in a desert by use of agricultural biotechnology. With this technology, plants can be engineered to survive in drought conditions. Through genetic engineering scientists have managed to introduce traits into existing genes with a goal of making crops resistant to droughts and pests and that is want we envision to happen in the next three decades.

By 2050, Farmers in Choma should be able to use ICTs-based platforms like DRUM Net to link with each other and with various stakeholders like extension officers, and providers of marketing, financial and other information products and services. The use of these platforms will enable the farmers to strengthen linkages with different stakeholders, cut on production costs and improve productivity because these tools have the potential to create opportunities for the poor and marginalized communities to engage with each other as well as with experts and policy makers to address some challenges thereby enhancing the sustainable agriculture industry towards sustainable poverty eradication.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Email


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kehinde Fashua

Hi thresa bwalya  welcome to the Food System Vision Prize Community!
As we begin the countdown to deadline day, please make sure you have reviewed your final submission through the Pocket Guide to support you through the final hours of wrapping up your submission. This will give you the most important bullet points to keep in mind to successfully submit your Vision. Here is the link to the pocket guide:
Look forward to seeing your submission finalized by 31st January, 5:00 pm EST.

View all comments