Mechanize Conservation Agriculture – Moonze ,Zambia
By Lembela Judy
He would always complain that the agricultural extension officers were not doing their job to help the farming community in his area.
His yields were always going down, and there seemed to be no solution insight apart from using expensive chemical fertilizers
Despite his misgivings, today, at 60, Mr. Lumumba is a proud conservation farmer in the outskirts of Moonze, South of Zambia’s capital, Lusaka
As soon as he adopted conservation agriculture, digging the potholes manually using chaka hole, he found it very labour intensive .He obviously could not expand his production.
The big breakthrough for him came late 2011 when an initiative by the Zambia National Farmers Union to mechanize small scale farms in the country enabled him to own a tractor.
With the Chaka hoe, Mr. Lumamba could only cultivate 2 hectares under conservation agriculture, today; he has put 6hectres of his 19 hectare farm under conservation agriculture.
ZNFU with support from the Food and Agricultural Organisation FAO and the European Union has realised that farmers have had difficulties to accesses farming equipment to help commercialize their farms.
The large number of livestock deaths in draft animals has also not made the situation any better.
The ZNFU is therefore working to provide tractors to conservation farmers in the country on loan.
Conservation farming is about doing less to get more. Only a tenth of the land area is disturbed.
The challenge however is that, using just a wide-bladed traditional chaka hoe, expanding production under conservation agriculture may not be a reality in Zambia.
It is a tough job to break the sun-baked soil; one has to persevere, to be ready to sow their seed with the first rains.
The initiative by ZNFU to mechanize conservation agriculture should therefore be seen as the way forward for the growth of conservation agriculture in Zambia