SMALL SCALE FARMERS INTERVIEW: “If a small scale farmer does not have access to reliable markets how will that farmer raise money to even purchase the latest technology on the market?”

1. Tell us more about you, where are you from, what kind of work do you do and how did you become interested in farming?
I am Kingsley Kachenjela, I was born on 18 April, 1976. I am the second born in a family of five, married with five children. I work for Indeni Petroleum Refinery Company Limited in Ndola, Zambia and am a supervisor in the Operations Department. I have worked for Indeni for 19 years.

My interest in farming started when I was in secondary school when my parents introduced me to it. We used to grow rain fed maize on a three hectares land then. Some money realised after harvesting went to paying for my school fees.

I just acquired seven hectares in Fatima, Ndola which I intend to develop. Otherwise I have been farming with my parents in Mpongwe and in Chankute in Masaiti. In Mpongwe 22 hectares of soyabeans, 25 hectares of maize, 3 hectares of tomatoes have been produced this year. There are village chickens and some pigs whilst in Chankute there are about 11-thousand plants of William Hybrid 2 of bananas, pigs and a hectare of tomatoes. The challenges of no capital, no access no affordable loans, low reliable knowledgeable labour availability, good indigenous knowledge but poor knowledge of modern agriculture systems is slowing my growth. My focus is doing intensive integration farming. I am focusing on village chickens, two crops so as to properly crop rotate. 

2. How did the Farming as a Business Facebook Group start?
Poor knowledge of modern agriculture systems among small scale farmers prompted me to start this group so that those who have knowledge and information can share with those who do not have. Neither government, donors or farmers unions were helping address farmers’ real profitability and holistic context.

3. What are the main activities on the Facebook group?
Sharing ideas on how farmers can make real profit for less effort both in the short and long term.

4. You have more than 360-thousand followers already. Were you surprised at the enormous numbers that you are able to attract through social media – there is clearly a need for such an interactive platform amongst farmers.

5. What in your view are the main challenges facing small scale and emerging farmers in Zambia?
- Lack of government support e.g extension services.
- Lack of comprehensive knowledge on sustainable farming practices, fertilisers, herbicides, insecticides, which if not properly used, pose health risks.
- General ignorance on environmental degradation and soil fertility.
- Not understanding how high reliance on ever increasing inputs is making farmers poor and destroying the life in their soil.
- Lack of reliable markets
- Value addition
- Access to affordable loans
- Poor infrastructure
- Breaking walls of individualism
- Threat to seed autonomy

6. How important is technology in your view?
Technology is very important especially the science of how all life growth works on our planet. This includes how communities interact, the nutrient cycle, water cycle and solar energy flow.  

7. What is your vision for Zambia’s agri sector?
In the holistic context of peak cheap oil and phosphorus, environmental malfunction, Zambian farmers need to transition quickly to a low input, regenerative approach to the production of food, fibre and energy from our lands and waters. The approach needs to be driven by small scale farmers to maximise employment opportunities across the country and create abundance for the growing population and consumption levels.

8. You have been to Agritech Expo before? What do you think of the show?
Yes, the show is well organised and coordinated. I feel it is more biased to commercial farmers than small scale farmers, hence the need for more tailored technology for small scale farmers that will enable them to easily graduate into commercial farmers one day. I have been hoping to find solutions for markets. If a small scale farmer does not access reliable markets how will that farmer raise money to even purchase latest technology on the market?

9. We look forward to welcoming you and many of your fellow farmers in Chisamba in April – you are also addressing the Agritech Expo AgriTEACH workshop programme on the topic of “Steps to finding suitable markets for farm produce” – what are the main challenges in your view to finding suitable markets for farm produce for small scale farmers?
Changing mind-sets to where farmers can access markets directly and are price setters, not price takers.

10. SSF will have a stand as part of the media zone at Agritech Expo Zambia - what is your message to all the SSF members about the show?
Please attend to learn more about how to increase soil fertility, water retention and resilience against pests by using what you already have on your farm.

11. Anything you would like to add?
If big business wants to engage effectively with SSF the focus must be on low input regenerative technologies, knowledge transfer and aggregating markets for not only crops, but the plethora of natural products they have in common.