Farmers living in Kazungula, a small border town in the Southern Province of Zambia, each recently received a bicycle during a celebration ceremony held at the Sekute Community Development Trust offices. Also part of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, the town lies within the Simalaha Community Conservancy situated on the northern bank of the Zambezi River, about 70km west of Livingstone.
Twenty lead farmers from the chiefdoms of Deputy Chief Joyce Sekute and Senior Chief Inyambo Yeta, received training to become ‘contact’ farmers – empowering them to train other farmers in conservation agriculture techniques. First introduced in 2013, conservation agriculture has been promoting a way of farming that concentrates on soil management practices to minimise the disruption of natural biodiversity, soil structure and composition. In comparison to traditional farming techniques, conservation agriculture has proven to improve crop yields, as well as long-term environmental and financial sustainability.
The contact farmers were each presented with a bicycle to allow them to travel with more ease between the fields of the various farmers they have trained and continue to assist. In addition to providing continuous guidance, the contact farmers use SMART devices provided to them to monitor progress of individual farmers during the growth phase by taking photos of crop growth, root development, and the possible presence of diseases. During harvesting the yields of each crop per farmer will also be recorded.
The handover of the bicycles was celebrated with cultural dancing and singing, followed by an address by the agricultural officer for the area, Grey Kauwo, who expressed his appreciation for the work being done in conservation agriculture, also complimenting Peace Parks Foundation for always keeping the government staff involved in planning and implementation.
In a speech read by the Senior Induna, Mr D Siandavu, the Deputy Chief expressed her gratitude to Peace Parks Foundation and looked forward to expanding the farmer training programme in the future, especially in cases where there is commercial potential. Grounded, a company who assist farmers to establish market linkages, was also thanked for their role in establishing a market for surplus groundnuts.