HELPING FARMERS – As many of you know, Flatdogs Camp and our guests support Conservation South Luangwa (CSL) with various forms of funding.
CSL and their partners Awely have committed to helping local farmers with protection of their crops in the vital growing season.
Watchtowers are built and trained guards are issued with chili blasting guns that they fire at problem elephants to stop them from damaging crops. This will help local people live with elephants and not see them as a threat and in turn aid in their conservation.
We live in one of the most fertile areas on the planet – just ask the animals who benefit from the vegetation and fruits which grow in abundance during the rains!! At Flatdogs, great food is a very important feature and we use several local farmers to help us achieve our goal of fresh, locally produced food. We have worked with the Kenneth Kaunda Centre for Practical Agriculture, and have advised them on what to grow and how to get it to the market, ie us!
We also recognise the fragile environment we live in and want to ensure that we don’t encourage people to damage it. On the plateau, above the Luangwa Valley, is some great farm land, much more suited to raising livestock. And in Mayana Farms, we have one of the best livestock producers in Zambia. Still local to the Eastern Province, but not adding to the pressures around wildlife areas, they now supply fantastic beef, lamb and pork directly to us from their farm. And we prepare it for you in our restaurant!
When buying locally, we have also to consider the effect of our bulk purchases; buy too much of a scarce commodity, and prices rise beyond the reach of local people. So we try to balance our needs, the demands of the business and the prosperity of local people when making our purchasing decisions. When we need lots of a product in short supply, we encourage farmers to grow plenty of it so that we don’t have to buy at the local market. So every tomato you eat will be local, but none of the fish! Fish is a valuable and legal protein source for local people and we want to keep prices down.
Linking the supplier with the buyer is always a problem in developing countries where transport and communications are poor. We have made good progress in this area by encouraging local farmers to bring their produce to a central ‘farmers market’ hosted by the KK Centre where we, and other buyers, can go to get what we need. Farmers are often reluctant to harvest their vegetable crops if they can’t be sure of a buyer (they would rather let it go to seed) so this farmers market helps them, and helps us get the freshest vegetables!
We now spend over $150 per week on local produce for our kitchen!
We also have our own garden in camp where we grow herbs and vegetables and the chillies that make our fiery chilli sauce! Edwin the gardener keeps everything in order, and also waters and looks after our tree saplings which we’ve planted to replace the older trees in camp when they die.
Unfortunately the elephants have made short work of our tree planting scheme! We will try another idea later in the year when the rains will help the trees grow!