April 2023

Hello ,

Results year 1 “From autopilot farmer to Champion”

The first year of the "From autopilot farmer to Champion" project is over. The Zambian team worked hard to make the first year a success, and there was also a lot of support from the Netherlands, for instance in the form of bi-monthly meetings with Casper Helmer of AFAS

What happened in the first year:

  • The programme has been introduced to Chiefs and headmen.
  • The local field workers found 40 farmers across three districts, these 40 farmers received business, financial and marketing training and were challenged to think "out of the box". From this group, the most motivated farmers were eventually selected, a total of 33.
Business Training
  • After this training, the farmers were asked to pay a commitment fee for the pump, 26 farmers have done this so far and of these, 23 pumps have now been installed.
  • The field workers made a plan with each farmer on how they are going to set up their lima (50x50m). On this field, they will try new crops and farming techniques.
Land preparation
  • The farmers all have an "agro budget" at their disposal to spend over the next five years. 60% is funded by AFAS and 40% by the farmer him- or her-self. A number of farmers have already made partial use of it. These include partially sponsored good quality seeds, garden hose, extra solar pump with panels, drip irrigation system, 220-litre water tank, plastics for tree nursery, sprinkler and barbed wire to fence the land.
  • Each farmer keeps a simple accounting system (income and expenditure) on paper.
  • Individual farmers are visited regularly and together plans are adjusted and problems solved.
  • Training was given on how to make four types of compost using locally available materials.
Organic fertilizer making 4 methods
Farmers learn how to make Bocashi

Lessons learned

Of course, we also learnt a lot the first year.
  • Thinking "out of the box" is difficult for many farmers. There is little variety in supply because many farmers grow the same products, e.g. maize, peanuts, soya, tomatoes, onions or white cabbage. On the local market, this doesn't bring in much, simply because everyone grows it. On the lima, farmers can now learn to grow crops that are not common but are wanted such as: cauliflower, broccoli, yellow and red peppers, leeks and so on. The field worker helps them do this. In addition, "fact sheets" have also been created that contain information about growing a specific crop.
  • Keeping a simple accounting system is a huge task for smallholder farmers. Folders with pre-printed accounting sheets have been distributed. The field worker guides the farmers in filling them.
One of the farmers from the program with wife and child

On to the second year

In the second year, 24 farmers will be added to the program and an "organic crop protection" training course will be developed incorporating local knowledge.

The best farmer of the season will also be chosen. The farmers will start visiting each other and thus determine who they think has made the most progress so far. In this way they will inspire each other and learn from each other.


Manual Poultry

The manual for making your own chicken feed is supplemented with basic knowledge on how to keep chickens. Get your newest update here:
Poultry feed design and production
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