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James McNulty is a Seconded National Expert working with the European Union Delegation to Zambia. He recently wrote a Voices & Views that was featured as part of Food Security Week on capacity4dev.eu, where he shared what he learned about the practical application of conservation agriculture from local farmers.
Below you can see a presentation that he prepared explaining conservation agriculture, and showcasing photos and personal stories from farmers who participated in the FISRI project.
CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE IN ZAMBIA
This is a collection of photos about farmers in Chongwe District in Zambia who are participating in the EU-funded FISRI (Farmer Input Support Response Initiative). It highlights the methods and equipment they use, some of the farmers involved, and the issues they face.
FISRI is funded by FAO and European Union, and implemented through Ministry of Agriculture. Between 2009 and the end of 2012, this project has provided support (including e-vouchers, affordable access to equipment, and training) to approximately 200,000 farmers in Zambia (in 2011), over 17,000 of them in Chongwe district.
Farmers in Chongwe District in Zambia
Matthias Ndhlovu, Lead Farmer at Kumatsimo Farm, Kanakantapa Camp, with the tractor he bought through the EU-supported conservation agriculture programme. He wants to get another tractor and more farm equipment to meet increasing demand from the 191 farms he services. Will he be able to meet the terms of his existing loans? 'It is a struggle, but manageable. I am on course to repay in three years.'
Proof of payment between Matthias Ndhlovu, Lead Farmer, Kumatsimo Farm, Kanakantapa Camp, and one of the 'follower farmers' he provides services to.
EU agricultural officer with a low-cost, low-maintenance conservation agriculture tool, a Fitarelli No. 12 direct planter and fertilizer distributor.
These conservation agriculture smallholders from Lukoshi village said that they wouldn't go back to traditional methods. The benefits?
They like being able to plant early, and of course to get much higher yields, enabling them to hire others to help them plant and harvest fields. Other benefits include less water run-off, better quality of soil and higher resistance to drought. However, they don’t always get paid on time by the Government Food Reserve Agency for what they produce.
Agro-dealers sell farm equipment, seeds and fertiliser. This lady is one of eight agro-dealers in Chomgwe district who participates in the e-voucher scheme.
The E-voucher system – piloted by the EU’s FISRI project – has been shown to be a good way of compensating the lead farmers who provide advice to follower farmers on conservation agriculture methods.
This lady reported that e-vouchers accounted for an increase of 15% in her turnover – involving the private sector is a vital part of making new agricultural methods and models more sustainable in Zambia
Charles Simulunda, District Agricultural Coordinator, Chongwe, at his desk, in charge of implementation of the EU’s farmer support program at district level. When asked about the impact of the programme, he said: 'They can sell far more bags…they have increased their production. Their children can go to school, they can buy iron sheets to build their houses.'
Conservation agriculture isn’t just about bigger yields, it’s about human development. CA can help overcome some of Zambia’s long-term challenges through better nutrition, crop diversification, environmental sustainability and higher productivity for smallholder farmers. Which means a brighter and healthier future for the children of Lukoshi village.
That’s why the EU, together with its partners and the Government in Zambia, is scaling-up CA in 2013 and beyond.