The purpose of this field trip was to inspire the participating farmers to continue to play active roles in BCP’s CFTP, and to encourage them to become leaders in the program as it expands to include new communities in the upcoming year. BCP’s CFTP is designed to improve agricultural yields and incomes for rural producers, with the aim of the reducing pressures that farmers currently face to clear new areas of forest for larger fields, or to engage charcoal production to generate additional income. BCP’s CFTP is also intended to increase resiliency among rural farmers.
Visiting the demonstration plots in February, just after the peak of the rainy season, the participating farmers were able to view the experienced conservation farmers’ yields at their most impressive—tall stalks of maize and full-leafed soya plants towered above conventionally tilled crops grown by non-participating farmers. The farmers were able to spend an entire morning listening to advice and asking questions from the experienced conservation farmers, who told their guests all about the events that led them to become dedicated conservation farmers. One man explained that in his first year of using conservation farming techniques, his yield increased by 42% (from 48 bags to 68 bags of maize)—this provided his family with food security for the first time he could remember, plus, it allowed him to sell maize and even to purchase livestock for his farm!
Participants from BCP’s CFTP listened attentively to the Lead Farmers and saw with their own eyes the impressive impact that minimal tillage conservation farming practices, can have on normal crop yields. As they returned to their rural community of Mweenshan’gombe, the farmers talked excitedly about their plans to continue and lead the CFTP in the upcoming year.
BCP’s Conservation Farming Training Program has been made possible through a partnership with the Zambian Conservation Farming Unit (CFU), which has generously provided ongoing support, training and guidance to our team.