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Irrigation technology for rural famers

Innovative low cost technology for market gardening has transformed how rural farmers are earning a decent living in Chingola district in Zambia.

Mr. Dismon Bwalya, a 42 year old chairperson of Bosso Farmers’ Clubs, Boso village, Chingola district bear testimony on how a micro-credit loan has impacted on his family's social and economic status. Married with 4 children and 2 grandchildren, Mr. Bwalya has been ripping the benefits of being a member of a Farmers’ Clubs collective since joining on 22nd April 2010.

In 2010, he got a loan amounting to K2,000 (Euro300) from the program which he used for the acquisition of seed, pesticides and fertilizer. In 2011, he obtained another loan from the same credit facility amounting to K3,000(Euro 350) which he used for the purchase of a treadle pump. He has since paid back the two loans. In 2012, he got another loan of K3,000 for the purchase of a petrol propelled engine water pump. This has seen him transform his horticulture production realizing more yield per area planted because he can efficiently utilize the water resource from a nearby river.

“I have been steadily graduating from one level of low-cost irrigation technology to another every year. I have been graduating with excellent results from carrying a watering bucket to using treadle pump and crossing over to better equipment such as the motorised water pump which I bought in 2012. All this happened amid the challenges of inadequate water during particular periods of the dry season as well as challenges of marketing the produce,” said Mr. Bwalya with a broad smile.

Apart from growing tomatoes, Mr. Bwalya grow other vegetables like rape, cabbages and green beans as part of crop diversification. “I have to practice what I have learnt from the several training sessions that we have had”, said Mr. Bwalya. “During the trainings I have also learnt about intercropping leguminous plants like beans as a method of fertilizing the soil. Other topics included; crop rotation, not burning crop residues, use of mulch, efficient irrigation, production and use of compost and much more.”

Major markets for his produce include Solwezi, St. Dorothy, Chingola, Kasumbalesa and Kitwe. Local traders and those from surrounding settlements provide good market for the vegetables also. At times, vegetable vendors buy the produce from his farm and transport it to major markets. The high demand from his quality produce has made him increase the size of his vegetable garden from 0.5 to 1.5 ha.

When asked about the sustainability of his farming business, Mr. Bwalya explained that he had received enough training and amassed knowledge and skills such that he does not see himself and other fellow Farmers' Clubs members failing even after the winding up of the project. He has also built basic capital to sustain and advance his farming operations.

“Socio-economically, I have graduated from living in a 2 roomed grass thatched house to a 4 roomed spacious brick-and-mortar house. My family is able to afford 3 meals a day and I am able to send my children to school”, said Mr. Bwalya with confidence.