COMACO is a farmer-based agro-processing company that incentivizes better ways to farm and care for the land while sustaining household food and income security across an entire ecosystem. It operates as a non-profit business and offers trade benefits to low income, hunger-vulnerable families for adopting improved farming and land use practices that lead to more food, more income and increased natural resource protection. As a business-oriented model for linking rural agriculture, markets and conservation, COMACO’s mission is to simply get small-scale farmers to protect the ecosystem they live and depend on, while enabling conservation services and other revenue streams like tourism to flourish.
COMACO has two main components: firstly, farmer extension, in which small-scale farmers are assisted with skills, inputs and markets to change farming practices, and secondly, the business of making value-added food products from the surplus produced by these farmers. Revenues generated from the sale of these products, sold under the brand, It’s Wild!, provide the incentives to maintain farmer commitment to improved farming practices. Working together, these two components promote the adoption of farming practices that enhance soil fertility as well as crop diversity and sustainability of improved yields while abandoning practices destructive to wildlife and forests. An added benefit is a locally produced, healthy food source that is on almost every shelf of grocer stores nation wide.
3W initiated the relationship with a small grant of $80K for immediate CapEx needs. We then expanded our cooperation to include a low-interest working capital loan of $500K to help scale the operation and increase impact. And in 2015, we established a commodity trading company, Valley Commodity Trading, to support the crop purchasing needs of COMACO. The challenges are great, but our hope is that COMACO’s innovative model will continue protect the elephant populations of Zambia. Check out this video highlighting one of the creative ways COMACO addresses the challenges of protecting wildlife and local livelihoods.