Jasinta led the way along a well trodden path through the maize fields of her village. We followed about 25 farmers from the Mpongwe area and Robert and me. I could hear the exclamations before I reached her field: “This is local maize?” Yes, it is folks, local maize planted the CF (conservation farming) way.
What excited these farmers so much is that she used totally local products, local maize seed (probably her own), manure, and ashes. She now has the knowledge to grow a good crop to feed her family even when there’s no seed or fertilizer to be had. This is especially important as she’s a widow, the sole bread winner of the family.
Millers don’t like local maize (versus the hybrid varieties from seed companies), claiming it is harder to mill. Many rural families plant it anyway, for their own food. They can’t afford hybrid seed or fertilizer. Their crops usually look poor, leaving them hungry for part of the year. These farmers have never seen local maize looking like Jasinta’s.
We paid for Jasinta to go to Masaiti and take the week long CF training course last August. Back home she applied the methods to a small field. She says the course was too late in the year to prepare a larger area or to train others as she would have liked to.
Jasinta also has a loan from us for fertilizer and hybrid seed. She planted that using traditional methods but employing the lessons we taught the group over the last two years about proper seeding depths, rates, weeding, timing, etc. That field is also looking very well, but she says she can repay the loan from the CF field, if she had to.
It’s so exciting to see this woman pass on her knowledge. The day before we met with the Mpongwe farmers that have small loans from us and once again preached CF. They are listening more all the time. But it is when they see one of their own people with such success that they realize; this is real and it can be done and it must be done.
We had no problems finding two people to accompany Robert and myself to the CF training week at Masaiti starting this Tuesday. We feel it is time we took the training ourselves, so we are better equipped to train others. The folks at Masaiti are keen to work with us and give us any help we need.