Saturday, May 30, 2009

Message from Makeni, Zambia re agricultural project




After the successful distribution of the fertilizer and seed inputs for the targeted 21 settlers of Chisamba Settlement Village, our role as Makeni Ecumenical Centre concentrated on monitoring and exchange programmes with the settlers. At the end of June we should be able to compile the ground data on the total yields harvested by the farmers/settlers.


As the implementation of AAA Input Support Project started in February 2009 amidst the fears concerning timing and probable fears of having low yields, it worked out averagely well. The rainfall was good. We had the last rains in the last week of April, 2009. These rains worked to the advantage of our target group. For those who planted early (Nov/Dec) the latter rains, of course, threatened to damage the already drying maize. The yields of our target farmers would have been much better if we had planted early. With such a good rainy season a farmer, with inputs and has planted early, is expected to produce 20 – 30 bags x 50kg per Lima. For our target farmers, the expected yields per farmer shall range between 9 - 10 bags x 50kgs. This low yield is as a result of late implementation.

We held a field day for the beneficiaries (see pictures) so that experiences and lessons could be shared. The morale was high and is still high. They are grateful to African AIDS Angel. They have been saying, ‘Ni angelo chaiwo iwo’. This is Nyanja translating, “They are truly angels”.


The 21 beneficiaries did not only grow maize. As per tradition, the also grew pumpkins, cowpeas, cleome, gourds, beans, ground nuts and cassava. These are mainly grown for their relish. Sweet potatoes and cassava do supplement maize for the sources of carbohydrates. Maize is the major crop which is grown for consumption and for sale.


Although the yield of 9 bags x 50kg may be considered to be low from the agricultural technical point of view, to the beneficiaries it is a high yield they have never experienced ever since they settled in Chisamba Settlement Village. One beneficiary an old lady (Amai Moonga – whose picture I sent) a widow, narrated her experience of having been having poor yields as low as 2bags x 50kg per lima for the past 3 years that she has been in Chisamba. And she almost entirely depended on piecework in the nearby commercial farms to feed herself and her 2 grandsons (orphans). Now she has enough maize to eat through out the year and she will now concentrate in preparing her fields instead of doing piecework.

On average the previous yields of our target group has been 2 – 5 bags x 50kg per lima due to lack of inputs. Now the beneficiaries are happy. They believe that the assistance coming from AAA is the ‘hand of God’ that has rescued them from poverty and deprivation.


The farmers are full of joy and appreciation for the assistance. They believe ‘soon and very soon’ they would be able to have a decent life. Some have already pledged three bags of maize to help themselves get one bag of fertiliser. This years flow price of maize is K65,000 per 50kg bag. So they may be able to buy at almost one bags if the price of fertiliser go down of the season. They look so willing not to disappoint MEC and AAA for the support being rendered.

As was earlier mentioned, the actual assessment will be done in June. The expected average overall yield for 21 farmers is likely to be 189 bags x 50kg which is 9450kg of maize. This is a very big improvement as compared to the past record of 3150kg for 21 farmers.

Extension work will continue to ensure that farmers do not sell all the maize that they have produced and will also be educating them on how to prevent the maize corn from being damaged by storage pests such as weevils. The general view of our Settlement/Extension Officer is that this kind of assistance has had impact on the target group and if resources permit should continued for a few more seasons and could be extended to Mwomboshi settlement. It will certainly help and improve the living standards of most families that are badly affected by AIDS/HIV and the very vulnerable.

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