Monday, June 17, 2024

From Seams to Soil: Meet Brenda, the vegetable farmer who is sending her children to school using organic farming

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Brenda holding some of the vegetables she grows at KATC centre pivot irrigation system in Chongwe.
Pictures by Hope Mkunte.

Chongwe is only 30 minutes’ drive away from Lusaka for most car owners, yet most people are unaware that most of the vegetables they eat are from this small agriculture hotspot where small scale farmers, including women are growing organic vegetables under centre pivot irrigation system.

One of the women who stands out is Brenda Banda, a vegetable farmer from Chasha village who started out as a tailor.

Brenda, like most women in her village used to water the vegetables in her garden using water from a well, which sometimes would dry up in the dry season leaving her with only her sewing machine as a source of income.

“Water has always been a problem here, so most of the vegetables we grow we eat and if there is any surplus, we sell to get some money to buy soap and other things. It is even more difficult to grow maize in the rainy season because fertilizer is very expensive.” She says.

Lucky enough for Brenda and her fellow women, Kasisi Agriculture Training Centre under the Civil Society Environment Fund, Phase 2 (CSEF2) project, which is funded by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland (MFA) has made available 12.5 hectares of land under centre pivot irrigation for small holder organic vegetable production.

The CSEF2 project set out to train 100 farmers in organic farming and Brenda was one of them. Among the courses she attended include sustainable organic agriculture, and organic vegetable production.

“The project trained us how to do organic farming. They taught us how to prepare our beds, control pests and diseases, make and use manure tea and also how to make a budget, find market and manage our money”. She says.

Asked the difference between ordinary farming and organic farming, Brenda is quick to point out.

“The big difference I have experienced between using artificial fertilizer and organic farming is that artificial fertilizer is very expensive, especially for us in the village but with organic farming you can buy a 50 KG bag of chicken manure for only ZMW5. Also, I have found that vegetables grown using organic farming get ready faster than the ones grown using artificial fertilizer. Even the customers who come to buy from us tell us that our organic vegetables taste better.”

Brenda’s life has taken a turn for the better. Not only has she been able to send her children to school, she has also been able to increase her income by investing money earned from organic vegetable production under centre pivot irrigation into starting poultry and pig rearing.

“I started out with 20 broiler chickens but now I keep 100 broiler chickens and 23 pigs. You know this business you need to be strong and serious. A lot of the women on this project are doing wonderful things that they could not do before they started organic vegetable production under centre pivot irrigation.” She says.

Brenda says she would love to one day have a borehole at her house so that she and a few women could take what they have learned on the CSEF2 project and implement it in the village.

“We have been on this project for two years now and our lives have changed for the better, but we would love to group up with other women in the village and start our own centre pivot irrigation system.” Says Brenda.

The CSEF2 project promotes the technologies and land use practices associated with sustainable crop and vegetable production. By encouraging innovation in agricultural practices, farmers can secure more stable and sustainable livelihoods, restore soil fertility, foster sustainable use and management of natural resource and prevent environmental degradation.

Brenda holding some of the vegetables she grows at KATC centre pivot irrigation system in Chongwe.
Pictures by Hope Mkunte.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Indeed do away with those poisonous GMOs and concentrate on simple yet, very cheap type of chicken and even cow-dung manures.

  2. Brenda is proving that Zambians do not need to buy the expensive solutions of the developed world (like fertilizer, pesticide and GMOs) to be productive. African farmers are not fools, and have been farming “sustainably” all along. All that is lacking is the confidence to say to the western companies, “Get lost we can do it ourselves!”

  3. sensible article. we need 90 percent of this, 9.5 percent on entertainment and 0.5 % on politics. for zsmbian media its always 120% politics. i dont know where they get 20%.

  4. Meanwhile Lazy Lungu is bragging out empowerment funds being distributed to their equally useless cadres who will never pay back taxpayers…here is Kasisi Agriculture Training Centre under the Civil Society Environment Fund project, which is funded by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland (MFA).
    Shame on you fooool!!

  5. Very positive thing to come out Zambia in recent months. We always dimini our own people that they are lazy now we can how hard working men and women can do if you give them good resources. Stop politicians in programs like this. Continue feeding the masses
    BANA BANDA

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