My Dad just called from Cecil Lake, B.C. (Peace River area) to tell me they had several inches of wet snow over night. Some of my family is still combining – that will effectively put a stop to that for awhile. No one likes snow this early.
What a busy two weeks we have behind us! Farmers in this area (Westlock, Alberta) are either done or wrapping up combining. Robert and his crew finished Saturday night. I’ll be busy most of this week yet – we’ve got some canola and barley left to do. My boss, Loren Koch, is scrambling for bin space – a good problem to have. As we read and hear of poor yields across western Canada, we continue to be very thankful for this harvest.
Sunday afternoon I had an exciting phone conversation to Zambia with Eva Sanderson. Eva will be a familiar name to anyone who followed my blog through our time in Zambia February – April this year. A 63 year old black Zambian, Eva was very involved in politics at every level. She has now turned that amazing energy to agriculture. I was privileged to help her organize the first trips to conservation farming field days, motivating small farmers in the Kitwe area to begin farming with more sustainable and profitable methods.
Out of that initial enthusiasm there has been some significant action. Trips were made to several more farms and cooperative groups to see what is possible in Zambia. Relationships were formed to potential markets in India. A core group of interested farmers, men and women, are in the process of forming a new cooperative.
Eva’s experience with cooperatives, which is also our experience, is that they function best when members work individually on projects and plots and come together to learn, purchase inputs, and market products. One of the projects planned is to grow bird’s eye chili peppers. Each member will plant one lima (one quarter hectare) of chilies. They have the market secured, which will also provide the seed and instruction on growing.
What excites me most about what is happening with this group is that is it entirely Zambian made and led. I was there to help at the beginning, but I wasn’t in charge. Eva assures me that my support at the time was vital to making things happen, but knowing her, it would have happened anyway.
Outside support from government and non-government programs is very important in Zambia. The Norwegians strongly support the conservation farming method with money and staff for education and research. Other NGOs have done much work with agricultural methods and teaching in Zambia of which this group is now profiting.
But it is when Zambians themselves take charge of their future; when they organize themselves and do the work and give leadership – that is what we all work for. Very exciting indeed!