By Walter Mupangwa and Christian Thierfelder/CIMMYT
The quiet Khokwe village in the Chanje Central Block in Chipata district, Zambia, was buzzing with activity on 2 April when six traditional chiefs visited the Sustainable Intensification of Maize-Legume Systems for the Eastern Province of Zambia-Africa Rising (SIMLEZA-Africa Rising) project.
Traditional leaders in African societies hold deep-rooted power in the communities, make important decisions on land use and distribution and guide villagers in times of change and uncertainty. Smallholder farmers in the Eastern Province face high labor costs and low labor availability and are confronted with the negative effects of climate variability, which require climateresilient, low-cost alternatives to improve farm productivity. Conservation agriculture (CA)- based management practices, combined with drought-tolerant maize varieties, as suggested by SIMLEZA-Africa Rising, can reduce production costs and improve resource-use efficiency, productivity and profitability. Farmers from communities surrounding Khokwe warmly welcomed the six chiefs drawn from Chewa- and Tumbuka-speaking tribes of eastern Zambia.