“What are those wide white stripes at the side of the road for,” I wonder. We’re driving the beautiful paved road to Mkushi, one of the best farming blocks in Zambia.
“That’s a grain dryer,” Robert tells me, laughing. He’s right. The corn harvest has begun for some of the small scale farmers. They use the warm pavement to dry their shelled corn, laying it out along the side of the road. I think the corn, mostly a white variety, is also for sale.
Soon we turn into the yard of a big commercial farmer, a South African who came to Zambia 10 years ago. Ross plans to harvest his corn at the end of the week using a brand new John Deere combine. He’s selling the shiny JD9660 that’s still standing in his yard. He’ll dry his corn using the modern grain drying system with two large steel bins.
An African woman comes around the bend of the path by his buildings, carrying a basin. Her movements and dress are so very African, and seem oddly out of place in this white man’s world. They’re not. The two worlds are closely intertwined on this farm.
The large commercial farms in Mkushi are almost all owned by white Zambians, South Africans or Zimbabweans.
The workers, including some of the management, are black Zambians. The Zambians are glad for the jobs the farms create. The government is thankful for the greatly improved food security the farms have provided.
After leaving the farm, we pass the African villages again. Children play in the mostly clean swept dirt yards before tiny mud huts with grass roofs, with small fields of corn or groundnuts (peanuts) nearby in the high grass.
It’s a stark contrast. The village that could be out of Abraham’s time right alongside the huge commercial farms that rival anything in North America.