Identifying new farming techniques in Zambia

Crops growing in Zambia
Crops growing in Zambia. Photo: Gareth Bentley / Concern Worldwide.

Concern often train people in new farming techniques. This has led to great success, particularly in Zambia.

Taking a chance and using new techniques, like those used by Concern Worldwide’s Accenture-funded conservation agriculture programme in Zambia, can make all the difference.

In 2010, a farmer named Miliko Kayoyo joined our conservation agriculture programme in Senanga District in Zambia’s western province.

During the training, he learnt that organic inputs - such as manure - could improve yields. However, he took it a step further and lined his planting basins with a double handful of tree leaves.

Leading by example

This small step helped Miliko yield more from his plot than any of his previous seasons on much larger fields.

Staff in Senanga facilitated site visits to his field for other farmers on our conservation agriculture programme.

Consequently, more than 200 farmers followed his example in 2011. Despite much less rainfall that year, the farmers who used tree leaves had better-than-average harvests.

Innovative tree leaves

For poor farmers like Eliza Kabangu in Kaeya Village, Senanga District, the use of tree leaves meant the difference between enough food and no food at all.

She said: "The leaves are easy to gather, don’t cost anything, keep the moisture in the soil and keep the crops from drying out. Concern has done well to help us share this knowledge between farmers like us."

Fields grown under a Faidherbia albida tree
Fields grown under a Faidherbia albida tree. Photo: Patrick Bentley / Concern Worldwide

Promoting innovation

Thanks to exchange visits between farmers, we expect this innovation to reach more than 1,000 farmers in 2012.

Better still, this new technique has spurred farmers to try other local technologies to decrease pest attacks and boost soil fertility. 

On a national level, our collaborating partners, Conservation Farming Unit and the Golden Valley Agricultural Research Trust, are interested in promoting this innovation throughout Zambia to increase crop performance and resilience to climate change.

This could make a huge difference for farmers all over the country.

The possibilities for farmers within the conservation agriculture project are continually growing. 

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