Nyaminyami: a positive result to our project
It has been a while since I visited some of the livelihoods projects in Kariba Rural (Nyaminyami) district. Today I put that right and spent a day with our field officers and partners from the agricultural extension services visiting rural farmers. I came back feeling very excited and encouraged.
I can honestly say that this was the first time in 6 months that I spent a whole day in the community and no-one at any point asked me for food or told me they were hungry! Instead I met farmers who were proud to show me their crops, who predict a good yield and who felt optimistic about the future.
So, why the difference? Well, this group were part of our livelihoods project where we are supporting farmers to adopt innovative farming methods designed to help them cope with unpredictable climatic conditions and very poor soils. These farmer have been trained by government extension officers (who were trained by Save the Children) and Save the Children has given them agricultural inputs.
Some of the farmer were trained last year or even the year before, but admitted that it has taken them some time to accept these new farming practices or to refine their skills. But everyone I met, without exception, was convinced and committed to using the new approaches and in building up not only their own skills but sharing them with others. Many felt that next season they would be able to produce seed that they could sell to other farmers in their area.
The day ended on a particular high when we visited a farmer who had been identified by the extension worker as an exemplary farmer. We were there to ask him if he would host a “field day” where he can show other farmers his fields and share his experiences. He was more than willing to do this, but he then told us that the farmer in the next household “is a better farmer than me”. We went to see the neighbour who turned out to be a 17 year old young man, Kuda, who was living with his elderly grandmother. It turned out that this farmer had taught Kuda how to use the new methods and he had been a fast learner. The young man said to me “ I owe it all to my neighbour. He was like a father to me.” Kuda also told me that this is the start of a better life for him and his grandmother. “ I am very excited about the crop and would like to sell some of the produce so that I can get some livestock. We do not have any livestock. This year I will buy a goat and then try to build up until I can get a cow.”