“I mean it was just amazing, absolutely amazing!”
I’m on the phone with my good friend Eva Sanderson in Kitwe, Zambia. She’s talking about the overwhelming response to the Conservation Farming (CF) stands at the agriculture shows. It isn’t much more than a year ago that the two of us put together the first trip to the CF field day at Kapiri Mposhi for Kitwe area farmers. Out of that initial interest a bustling farming cooperative has formed, an outgrower’s project with bird’s eye chilies was done, and more field trips taken to the CF research station near Lusaka and other farms.
When Eva approached the CF Unit in Lusaka about sending someone out to man a stand at the Agriculture show days in Kitwe and then in Ndola they were skeptical. Their experience with farmers in the Copperbelt area wasn’t encouraging. They felt farmers weren’t serious out there about CF, nor would there be enough interest. “The response from the people was overwhelming,” Eva told me. The problem now is how to help everyone that wants information and training. That’s a good problem though.
A dynamic African woman, Eva is married to Murray, an English economist who’s been in Africa since l956. Few people in the Kitwe area don’t know her. Having been involved in both local and national politics she’s a woman well positioned to make things happen and she takes full advantage of every opportunity to do so.
Recently Eva bought 10 hectares of land just outside Kitwe. She hasn’t lost any time developing it. “You have no idea what you started,” she says to me, referring especially to a visit where I took her to meet the folks at Masaiti Farming Institute. A week later she was sitting at the Foundations of Farming course along with us. There we were trained in the message and methods of God’s Way of Farming, from which Conservation Farming was developed. Now she’s hired a farmer trained at the Institute to help her run her farm, and he’s brought several others with him.
Together they’ve planted Israeli tomatoes. The seedlings come from Amiran, a company that sold us the first irrigation equipment we worked with in Zambia. Next week a shipment of red and yellow bell pepper seedlings, and three kinds of lettuce seedlings are arriving. Hopefully the borehole will be completed by then. They have some water, but not enough for everything.
Another friend, Vivienne Mutale, wrote me: “You should have been here when we went to collect the maize (corn). We went with Margaret and two of my daughters. They were amazed at the work going on.” She’s another one that’s embraced Conservation Farming with success.
“You should be here,” Eva tells me.
Just wait Eva, I’ll get there again!