Zambia: farming and copper mining – essential industries for the last 1500 years

Since before 600 CE farmers in central Zambia have been working with copper. Today these two industries are more separate but are still central to life in Zambia. Copper mining was responsible for 75% of the country’s exports in 2017, and the country holds 6% of the world’s known copper reserves. Whereas, for the 60.5% of the population living in rural areas (2010), smallholder farming is the primary way of life, occupying 54% of the employed workforce.

Zambia is a landlocked sub-saharan country, mostly covered with Savannah woodlands and grasslands. Because Zambia is elevated to 1000 to 1300 m above sea level, it gets more rain than other countries at similar latitudes, around 70 to 120 cm per year. It has a tropical climate with three seasons: cool and dry (May-August), hot and dry (September-October), hot and wet (November to April). So all that rainfall arrives in just six months of each year!

It seems likely that Zambians will continue to work both in copper mining and in agriculture in the years to come. Copper is essential for electronic wiring, among a huge array of other uses and agriculture is essential for supporting a growing population. In fact, smallholder agriculture is the lifeline for an estimated 1.6 million Zambians.

The benefits of solar pump irrigation

It’s predicted that climate change for Zambia will result in slightly less rainfall, which will also arrive in more infrequent but heavier rainfall events. With these changes, it’s likely that the benefits of irrigation will become increasingly important and we know farmers already irrigate to extend the growing season and increase yield. Solar irrigation reduces a farmers contribution to climate change. When farmers choose to irrigate their crops with Futurepump’s solar pumps, instead of a petrol pump, they reduce the pollution resulting from their farming activities. They are also using a little bit of copper, inside the pump, to help them do so.

Our distributor in Zambia is VITALITE – look out for more on them on our social media this month.