Owen Machuku is an agricultural researcher dedicated to advancing sustainable farming practices and improving food and nutrition security in Zambia. He is currently working for the Ministry of Agriculture based at the Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI). His interaction with the rural farming community has shaped his passion for finding innovative solutions to the challenges farmers face as a result of climate change.

Having worked in semi-arid regions and witnessed the negative effects droughts and high temperatures have on crops and, subsequently, rural livelihoods, he was motivated to be part of the solution by signing up for the Climate Solution Lab’s Impulsouth initiative. With support from Impulsouth mentors, Owen created the project entitled Enhancing Food Security through Sorghum Processing in Drought-Prone Areas of Lusitu in the Chirundu District. The project aims to increase rural communities’ resilience in the face of climate change shocks by diversifying the sorghum and adding value to it as an adaptation strategy.

Image caption: Robert Shimainga on the left, Owen Machuku on the right. Meeting the Kafue Innovation Center Co-founder
on the possibility of networking in designing and fabrication of sorghum milling machine and extruder for farmers in Chirundu district. KIC is a member of the International Development Innovation Network (IDIN)

The Solutions Lab equipped Owen with the resources and skills needed to provide smallholder farmers with training on sorghum processing, a powerful climate adaptation strategy to ensure food security in face of climate change. As a  result, 126 smallholder farmers from the Lusitu area—80% of whom are women— will receive training on Climate Action, Sorghum Production, Postharvest Handling and Value Addition. This action will reach 1,008 indirect beneficiaries. 

Enhancing Food Security through Sorghum Processing in Drought Prone Areas of Lusitu in Chirundu District

“I will forever be grateful for this opportunity and to Impulsouth’s Solutions Lab for the mentorship, training and financial assistance I received to improve the lives of people in rural areas who must adapt to the climate crisis.” —Owen Machuk.

Climate Solution Summary:
Enhancing Food Security through Sorghum Processing in Drought-Prone Areas of Lusitu in the Chirundu District

The solution aims to boost the resilience of the most vulnerable people, particularly, the smallholder farmers in the Lusitu area of the Chirundu District. This district was chosen due to its vulnerability to climate change risks, which include rising temperatures, erratic and low rainfall, increasing drought frequency, and sporadic flooding, along with a high prevalence of poverty. 

The project aims to improve food security by promoting the adoption of drought-resistant sorghum varieties and processing techniques that add value to the sorghum grain by turning it into flour and flakes. The key actors include the Ministry of Agriculture, through its Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI), the Ministry of Environment, the Community Technology Development Trust, and the Technology Development and Advisory Unit of the University of Zambia. This project will be implemented from July, 2023 to September,2024.