In Southern Africa, heavily starch-based diets are common despite the array of tropical fruit, due to social and ecological change. This project aims to trigger the scaling of nutrition-dense landscapes in rural Zambia by working with 10,000 homes to grow carefully-curated portfolios of wild and exotic fruit trees. Produced by nursery operators we train, these trees will provide year-round diets rich in micronutrients, and bring families new earnings, and capture carbon and support pollinators.
Africa's great miombo forest, rich in indigenous fruit, lies across Zambia. Wild fruit makes up 80% of rural women's intake. But deforestation is causing tree cover to recede, and nature's abundant supply is falling. At the same time, farms themselves produce few fruits and vegetables. The result is that diets provide little in the way of the micronutrients needed for healthy growth and well-being. Child stunting is high and women's intake of vitamins and minerals is far below what is required.
Bringing greater diversity of local fruit trees on to farms along with suitable exotic fruit trees provides a steady supply of vitamins and minerals. When families have 10-12 fruit especially combined species per farm, at least one will be fruiting at any time. The project will train local nursery operators to raise these trees and will work with families to adopt them. Local fruit trees are ecologically adapted, more likely to resist drought/pests, require little labor, and fill in hunger gaps.
The project will enrich the diets of up to 10,000 households by boosting diversity and seasonal availability of nutritious foods. It will create green jobs and steward above and below ground biodiversity (soil). It will address the climate crisis; trees absorb carbon and protect farms from shocks like floods. Women will have more access to cooking energy from branches, twigs. Incomes will rise (some fruit sold in towns). Higher goals are a healthier food system and a new way forward on stunting.
This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).