Davis Grads Create Company to Aid Zambian Farmers

A group of UC Davis graduates and current students are working alongside Zambian farmers to help them to generate longer lasting income. The company, named Zasaka, is focused on using simple technologies and farming practices to aid farmers in avoiding losses and growing more crops. The first technology that they have implemented through the company is a bag that was created at Purdue University. The bag protects grain without the use of chemicals and costs only $2.50 per 100 kilograms.

The idea for Zasaka was developed in the UC Davis D-Lab. Students who are participating in the D-Lab work with faculty to create designs for real-life projects and business in developing countries. Last year, the students behind Zasaka won $5,000 in the UC Davis Big Bang! Business Competition. The team won both the People’s choice award and the Ag and Food Innovation prize during the competition.

The company, which was started in 2014, works with 40 farmers. The company plans to expand to helping more than 400 farmers within the next year. The farmers enrolled in the program saw a 75 percent increase in crop yield from the improved farming practices and the seeds. This increase has doubled the income of participating farmers.

Zasaka holds biweekly training sessions that include discussions on diversifying crops that can be sold and traded, expanding farm yields and teaching the farmers how to keep most of their crops for later, off-season sales, when prices are higher. The team is also training farmers to teach others what they have learned. In addition to using the bags from Purude, Zasaka has developed shellers for maize and nuts, solar lights and other equipment priced and designed to help farmers be more productive.



About the Author

Erin Purcell

Staff Writer, covering MetroMBA's news beat for New York, Philadelphia, and Boston.

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