Every year, on the first Monday of August, countless Zambians around the country take a day off work, and hopefully spare a moment to celebrate the people that our annual Farmers’ Day honours. But, when you really reflect on the extent to which we all rely on farmers, it might seem more fitting to regard every day as Farmers’ Day.
This week, we put the spotlight on Mr Musumali, a maize farmer in Solwezi District whose crop yield has shot up since he joined Kansanshi’s Conservation Farming Program around seven years ago. Not only have the conservation farming methods that he practises brought enormous benefits to Mr Musumali and his family but, every year, these increased yields contribute to the bread basket that ultimately keeps Zambians fed and nourished.
Mining For Zambia visited his farm just as the harvest was starting in early June.
Mining For Zambia: When did you join Kansanshi’s Conservation Farming Programme?
Mr Musumali: In 2016.
Before you were on the program, what were some of the challenges related to farming that you faced?
We didn’t manage to grow enough food… We were harvesting very little. We just grew maize, maize, and more maize.
How long after joining the program did you start to notice a difference?
We noticed a difference in the very first year.
What was the difference?
Crop rotation was the first big thing we learned from conservation farming. We started growing soya that year. Our crop yields also increased.
Tell us more.
Previously, before joining the conservation farming project, we could harvest 7-10 bags of maize from a quarter of a hectare. After the first year, that went up to 30 bags. I was convinced that this farming method was the only way to go and, up until today, I firmly believe that.
“Before joining the conservation farming project, we could harvest 7-10 bags of maize from a quarter of a hectare. After the first year, that went up to 30 bags.”
This year we farmed five lemurs [one lemur is one hectare and a quarter]. And we’re expecting to get way beyond 100 bags of maize. We’ve already harvested 14 bags of unshelled ground nuts, and I estimate we’ll have way beyond 100 bags of maize.
That’s an enormous increase! Did you have to buy any more land or pay for labour to achieve that?
No. The only thing that changed was our farming method. Previously we ate all that we produced. Now we’re able to get income from selling our surplus to the market and to the millers.
Read more about what exactly conservation farming entails and how well over 40,000 farmers to date have benefited from FQM’s conservation farming programme here.
See also: Celebrating Success in Farming