Although southern Africa may be better known for its lions, elephants and spectacular scenery like Victoria Falls, these days it is coming into focus as a destination for agriculture. With plentiful land, lakes and rivers, along with a moderate climate, this region could be the world’s bread basket of the future.
In our series on the A-Z of food security, Z is for the southern African country of Zambia. We recently spoke with Mrs. Norah Hachiwa Mubiana, an active member of Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU), to learn how she and other farmers are creating a more food secure future in their country.
Last year you won the award for best-performing woman farmer at the ZNFU Annual Congress. Could you share some of the secrets of your success?
I am using hybrid seeds. That is one very important input. But I also believe in the value of conservation farming and diversification.
What is conservation farming?
Because my farm is in an area where the rainfall is lower than the rest of the country, I must conserve water in different ways. For example, I have adopted land preparation techniques such as potholing and spreading cattle manure on my fields. I have also increased the amount of humus to improve the soil structure and enhance its water retention capabilities as well as its capacity to retain nutrients after applying mineral fertilizers.
How are you using diversification?
With the proceeds from the sale of my corn, I bought several trucks and also invested in a portable diesel propelled maize sheller. With my 10-ton truck, I transport my own produce and I also hire it out to other farmers in my district. With one of my other trucks, I have a contract with the Food Reserve Agency to transport corn to their various depots. I have been providing shelling services to over 40 farmers at a fee.
This gives me another source of income and also connects me to more markets for my produce.
Do you have any other improvements in mind?
My plan is to own a tractor and accompanying implements so I can profit from becoming a service provider in the community.
I won a hammer mill and ripper planter as part of my prize from ZNFU. The ripper planter will increase yield in my fields, while the community will benefit from having a mill in closer proximity than before. I believe that when everyone works together, we can create a better future.