To complement the school feeding programme and provide an opportunity for families and schools to create their own sustainable independence we have partnered with Foundations for Farming to deliver training on Conservation Agriculture. Over the last 3 years we have seen outstanding success using this method to increase their own food supply and finally have their own income stream.
A family with just a hoe can be the best farmers in the world. Our nation has the land, the families and the hoes!
Every year at the beginning of the farming season we select 30 disadvantaged families and one school to receive training and Pfumvudza (Shona for “new beginnings”) seed pack inputs. All methods are achieved at very low cost using only natural techniques such as compost making and home remedies for pest control, which provides a higher standard of living for the families and schools. Using the Foundations for Farming methods, a family of 6 can feed itself for a whole year from a very small plot of land (16mx39m) leading to communities becoming self-sufficient, eradicating hunger, having surplus yield to sell for an income whilst maintaining healthy soil to protect the environment.
Principles of Conservation Agriculture are based on maintaining and enhancing soil structure:
- minimum soil disturbance – no ploughing, zero or minimum tillage
- maintain maximum soil coverage – no burning, use mulch (crop residues), composting and manuring
- practice rotations (using legumes) – improve soil structure and nutrient status, breaks pest and disease cycles
- On Time, To High Standard, Without Wastage
Those participants who have adhered to their training and used the principles have not only succeeded in their goals, they have excelled and surpassed all expectations. It is not unusual for us to have families produce 9 tonnes of maize as well as excess sorghum, spinach and tomatoes even through drought conditions. We begin each training season with 30 participants, however by the next season our trainees have become mentors to neighbours, friends and family who witness and want to become a part of the transformation.
Kemukaka Primary School used their plot as an education tool to the older students who were able to take their knowledge home, however it was the end of year yields they sold to the Grain Marketing Board (Zimbabwe’s prime source of grain) that gave them enough profit to build their first classroom block with 3 large classes and 2 storage rooms.