The world is lush green, the cassia trees blooming bright yellow. The power is out. A young girl with a baby on her back begs for money. The side roads are so pothole ridden they’re hard to navigate. Welcome to Zambia!
We’re privileged to be here; for a little while to share the lives of some of the people. It’s wonderful and hard at the same time, a roller coaster of emotions as usual.
Eva Sanderson is more excited than ever at the possibilities of conservation farming for the small scale farmers. It’s great to hear how many have taken the methods and applied them to their fields with good results. On Saturday we will join her group for a tour of some successful conservation farmers and learn more.
Vivienne Mate, the director’s secretary at MEF (Mindolo Eucumenical Foundation, where we stay), bought her own land. She was at the farm on Saturday – a two hours’ walk from the highway – and brought back enthusiastic reports of how well the maize and soybeans are growing. She has plans to build a house and increase the acreage in the next few years. She is a woman of action – I believe she will do it.
Tito Chisanshi planted five hectares of maize for the first time last year with a friend. The crop was doing well when we left last April. Half the crop was stolen before harvest, by the nephew of his friend who was supposed to be looking after it. The other half they harvested and stored in the village, where it was sold. But they still haven’t seen any money. That, sadly, is a normal story for Zambia.
Ruth Myanza planted a small market garden near town, by her son’s place. She let the garden go, because she was ‘sharing’ half the produce with others – again, theft. She is part of Eva’s co-op, which has a contract to grow Bird’s Eye Chilies, but the chilies are not thriving as well as they should. The contract is for organic produce.
The director of MEF told me his gardener took part in our conservation farming field days last year and has applied the methods with great success and has started his own field. The director would like to come to some workshops and learn more about conservation farming.
Bukuumo Cooperative came to the conclusion that they should sell most of their assets and pay back the loan that we provided to them, as they are not moving forward. Sometimes you have to cut your losses. Things have not turned out as they planned.
So we hear stories of success and failure. We are encouraged by the successes and know that failure is part of learning; is inevitable when moving ahead, but especially in development work. You evaluate it, strive to learn from it and move on.