By GEORGE MTONGA
BORN in 1986 in a family of six, two brothers and three sisters in Masamba agricultural farming block of Mbala District in Northern Province, Chitalu Sinyinza drew his farming inspiration from his parents in the early years of his childhood.
Mr Sinyinza started his maize farming career at a very small scale level with only a Lima in 2010 for household consumption.
He explains that his beginning was full of challenges having little knowledge and skills on improved technical farming skills, as that contributed to a low yield of his crops with a total harvest of Seven by 100 kilogrammes bags of maize which he termed as discouraging.
Following the introduction of an agriculture programme research component dubbed “crop establishment and ridging techniques” by Sustainable Intensification of Smallholder Farming Systems in Zambia (SIFAZ) in 2019; Chitalu Sinyinza was identified and selected as a Lead Farmer through the District Agricultural Coordinator’s office, a move that changed the face of farming practices in his farming career.
“I am so grateful for having acquired a lot of skills provided by SIFAZ through government under the Ministry of Agriculture and seen a lot of benefits in applying the lime and ridging skills in my maize and soya beans field which has produced great results for me so far. Initially, I didn’t know due to ignorance that acidic levels in my field contributed to low yields, but now I am so proud to experience a bumper harvest for the 2020/2021farming season,” Mr Sinyinza said.
Mr Sinyinza further explained that he was optimistic that the acquired knowledge and skills from the organisation during the on-going research will improve his agricultural techniques and improved standard of life to eliminate hunger at household level and later contribute to the national development.
Graduating from one Lima to eight Limas, with a current total harvest of 21 by 100 kilogrammes bags of maize, Mr Sinyinza said he is now able to feed his wife, Chomba Nakazwe with their three children.
The Mother trial farmer who showcased nine various maize plots with each demonstrating a different experimental technique, expressed happiness that the experience was so exciting and educative at the same time as it helped him to have more understanding on effective land preparations, choosing the right seed, recommended agro-chemical products and correct space measurements, among others.
“As a lead farmer, I have cultivated some of my field plots using various techniques such as conservation farming method by digging holes, plain field where I just slashed some grass, then planted and permanent ridges,” he explained.
Mr Sinyinza planted recommended SeedCo 719 maize seed with space measurement of 90 centimetres apart, apply lime to reduce high acidic levels in the soil and weed the fields regularly to attain a good harvest. While, for soya beans field, he put a space measurement of 45 centimetres apart and also practiced crop rotation for better soil preservation and high yield.
He narrated that his success did not come without challenges. Fears of adapting to new techniques farming methods, climate change in the region and other traditional myths from fellow farmers almost brought some doubt and discouragement. Another challenge observed was late delivery of required inputs after the timely preparation of fields which was a source of concern.
This farmer has great plans to expand his farming career to five hectares of variety crops in the next five years.
SIFAZ Chief Technical Advisor, Mtendere Mphatso says it is gratifying to see farmers in the area implementing the farming techniques effectively such as recommended seed, space measurements and agro-chemical products to attain desirable results during the 2020/2021 farming season.
Mr Mphatso who toured the Farming Block in the company of the Zambia Agricultural Research Institute, Mbala District Agricultural Coordinator, Clive Matengu, among other officers noted that despite the challenges faced by farmers such as heavy rainfall pattern due to climate change in the region, their crops were extremely impressive.
He further explained that Sinyinza is among the eight mother trial farmers who have been tasked to groom 175 baby trials in the farming Block which is an experimental project which needs practical application and could not avoid some natural challenges.
The Sustainable Intensification of Smallholder Farming Systems in Zambia (SIFAZ) is a project implemented under the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO)with counterpart funding from the European Union (EU) in collaboration with Government under the Ministry of Agriculture. Currently, it is carrying out a research on crop establishment and ridging techniques in five Provinces in the country. -NAIS
CHITALU SINYINZA IN HIS MAIZE FIELD
SIFAZ Chief Technical Advisor, Mutendere Mphatso- Second from right inspecting the fields.
Chitalu Sinyinza in his Soya beans field.