When conservation is divorced from development, it fails. COMACO turns unproductive Zambian farmers and poachers into productive farmers through training and access to markets. COMACO’s food business, It’s Wild, buys commodity crops from farmers and creates value-added products, like peanut butter, sold in supermarkets. Farmers who adopt improved land use and farming practices that promote natural resource conservation are paid a premium for their crops.
COMACO is a success: more than 1 million people are better off and environmental indicators have improved across the enormous Luangwa Valley ecosystem. In stark contrast with what’s happening across much of southern Africa, wildlife numbers appear to be stable. This is the best conservation effort involving smallholder farmers that we’ve ever seen: COMACO is a market-based conservation solution that works.