By MOSHA MWILA
Lack of access to land, appropriate mechanization equipment and money to buy farming inputs disadvantages female farmers, as they are unable to cultivate a field or sow a seed.
The case of Lontia Chibulika, a small-scale farmer practising Sustainable Intensification Practices (SIPSs), being implemented by the European Union-funded Sustainable Intensification of the Small Holder Farming Systems in Zambia (SIFAZ) Project through the Ministry of Agriculture, is different.
Ms Chibulika lives with her husband and children in Macha Camp of Choma District in Southern province. She works with her family in the field to make sure that they put food on the table. Ms Chibulika is one of the lucky female farmers that have been supported by the husband, when it comes to farming. She acknowledges that behind every successful male farmer, is a hard-working female farmer. Therefore, men should support their women if they want to be successful in farming.
“A woman plays an important role in farming. She helps in planting, weeding, and harvesting food crops while men till the land,” Ms Chibulika said.
Ms Chibulika added that women should be engaged in farming because they play an very important role in building a better economy.
Being a Lead Farmer under the SIFAZ Project, Ms Chibulika has undergone trainings in Sustainable Intensification Practices (SIPs) and one of the technologies she is implementing, is Soil health. Soil health technology is a major driver of improved food security and climate change mitigation. Soil health management and improvement, therefore, is a situation where soils are protected, maintained and improved for better crop production.
This technology requires planting strips of cereal and strips of legume crops to ensure effective crop rotation and enhance soil fertility. This SIP further reduces pests and diseases as the spread of such is minimized due to the combination of crops in the field contrary to mono-cropping where most pests and diseases are likely to attack the same type of crop.
Ms Chibulika implemented the same SIP in 2021/2022 farming season, except she never waited for inputs from the SIFAZ Project or the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), but bought inputs from Afriseed using her money. She was motivated to use her resources by the good harvest she realised the previous season. She added that her Camp Extension Officer (CEO) taught her the benefits of preparing for the farming season on time.
She encourages fellow farmers to plan for the farming season early and adopt technologies that help farmers enrich their soils in order to have a good harvest. Ms Chibulika discourages smallholder farmers to avoid waiting for the first rains, as it is not practical, noting that a good farmer prepares for the season on time.
This SIFAZ Lead Farmer works closely with the Camp Extension Officer in making sure that she implements the SIPs accordingly. This year, she is encouraging women in her area to adopt technologies that SIFAZ Project is implementing as the benefits are evident.
The SIFAZ Project is implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre. The project is in 27 districts across the five provinces of in three agro-ecological regions of Zambia.-NAIS