The COMACO deal starts with the offer of a “Payment for Nature” to farmers if they comply with their “conservation pledge” that lists those practices they are asked to follow.  In previous years, this was in the form of a premium price for the commodities they would sell to COMACO, averaging about 10% above the going market rate. This premium, paid when conservation compliance is verified, adds substantially to household income.

Now that production has increased for most of its farmers with the adoption of improved skills, income levels can grow in relation to this increased productivity and diversity of crops.  As a result and beginning in 2017, COMACO will instead offer its farmers the prevailing top market price for their commodities, and if compliant with required conservation compliance standards, will also pay a “Conservation Dividend” to their farmer cooperatives as a percentage of the total value of crops sold to COMACO. This payment will enable cooperatives to invest in a range of farmer support services that further improve livelihoods while reinforcing commitment to conservation.

If farmers violate the deal, say by poaching an elephant, COMACO uses a conservation compliance scoring system to identify such communities, who would be disqualified from receiving the conservation dividend.

There are various ways communities can achieve positive points for their conservation scores in addition to sustainable farming compliance, like the development and enforcement of a Community Conservation Plan and Community Conservation Areas, local transformation of local poachers or people who make charcoal, or demonstration of good leadership practices by farmer cooperatives.  The scoring exercise is an end-of-year community audit in which local government stakeholders are actively involved to help pressure communities to be committed to the COMACO deal, which also serves the interests and needs of the Zambian Government.

Read about: Farmer support – to enhance skills, Market support – to de-risk producers, Increased Resilience – for income diversity

The 2016 Conservation Compliance Scoring Methods and Results is here

comaco deal