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Equator Initiative Case Study - Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO)

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Zambia’s Luangwa Valley is the setting for a pioneering initiative that is transforming the local economy and reducing human pressures wildlife. Led by the Wildlife Conservation Society, Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO) has brought about substantial livelihoods and conservation benefits through a producer group model of collective learning, reaching more than 40,000 farming households with training in conservation farming techniques.
Farmers are invited to become COMACO members in return for adopting a package of eco-agriculture and organic farming techniques that both reduce the environmental impact of farming and drastically improve agricultural yields. COMACO purchases farm commodities through a network of depots and collection centres, alleviating transport costs and guaranteeing a premium for organic produce through the payment of an annual dividend to member farmers. The initiative has been particularly successful in converting poachers to farmers. The Equator Initiative brings together the United Nations, governments, civil society, businesses and grassroots organizations to recognize and advance local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities. As local and indigenous groups across the world chart a path towards sustainable development, the Equator Prize--issued biennially by the Equator Initiative--shines a spotlight on their efforts by honoring them on an international stage. This project was awarded the Equator Prize in recognition of its contribution to local sustainable development solutions.

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