(Story/photos by Alex Nkhoma)
“Though I have been to school, I never knew that farming could be treated as a business. I thought it is just a way to one’s survival – to have food for one’s family,” Phillip Maivune, a farmer of Mbala district in northern Zambia shares.
Phillip, 30, is married to 27 year-old Noriah Nachilya; together they have two children – Faith, 4, and eight weeks old Favor.
About 1,040km north of Lusaka, Zambia’s capital, there lies Musishai village, the home of Philip, which is within World Vision’s Mbala Area Program (AP).
Raising up his family in this community largely depending on traditional farming for survival has proved to be a bigger challenge not only for his family but many other farmers as well.
“I used to depend on growing beans and maize but gained nothing profitable. Everything I produced was just hand-to-mouth. As a result life has been hard for me to a point that my family could hardly afford two meals a day,” Phillip narrates.
Although Phillip has gone up to Grade 12, the education he attained did not stop him from facing the rage of poverty that he sought to thwart down but with a seemingly endless struggle.
“I did not know what to do to get out of the situation I was in. It was hard to have a steady income to support my family and invest in some of the income generating plans I had,” Phillip says.
Finally in 2013, the long awaited for opportunity came his way. It is exactly what he needed to open his eyes and spur his way through production of beans that he was already engaged in. As one of many other farmers, World Vision took him for a training in beans production.
“It was after this training that I learnt better ways of growing beans such as planting in lines with proper spacing and managing the crop well. With the skills and knowledge I learnt, I was surprised at the amount of beans I was able to harvest on the same piece of land I have always used in the past,” he explains.
“I planted a 30kg bag of Kabulangeti beans (a variety of sugar beans) and harvested 10 by 50kg bags of beans which I later sold and raised K3, 500,” Phillip explains further with a smile. “This cannot be compared to what I have been producing in the past on the same piece of land, which I could not even sell.”
Before his farming fell in place, Phillip says while practicing traditional farming, his harvests could not exceed 5 by 50kg bags of beans cultivate a hectare piece of land after planting 60kg of seed.
“My harvest were always poor. I used to put in a lot but get very little produce” says Phillip. “Now I am able to support my family and buy seed and fertilizer for beans and Maize on time without having to depend on external support. Life has now become normal – I am able to have money most of the time.”
“I thank World Vision for giving me the knowledge, which is power because without it, we are doomed and face a future which we do not know. The Bible in Hosea 4:6 states my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. That is a fact,” he says.
But that is not all. In 2014 Phillip was again trained as a Seed Grower for beans through collaboration between World Vision and the Ministry of Agriculture’s Misamfu Research Station.
To this effect, during 2016/17 farming seasons, Phillip like other Bean Seed Growers got 30kg bag of Kalungu bean variety on loan to multiply it. Phillip grew the beans on a two Lima piece of land and harvested 10 x 50kg bags of Bean seed which he later sold to Misamfu at K9.7 per kilogram.
“After selling the seed, I walked away with a K4, 365. This money helped me to buy more agriculture inputs (fertilizer, seed and insecticides) and maize. I am now able to sustain my family year-in-year-out,” he says.
With time, Phillip has increased the size of his farmland to about four (4) hectares of maize and about three (3) hectares of commercial beans.
Phillip has even achieved more than he could hope for. He finally decided to pursue his childhood dream career. “With what I have achieved because of World Vision’s assistance, I decided to pursue my childhood dream of becoming a teacher, which I have gladly achieved.”
Phillip is now a trained secondary school teacher and currently offering his voluntary teaching services at Masamba Primary school in Mbala as he awaits government’s deployment.
“Had it not been for World Vision’s support, I don’t know how life would have been for me and my family today. Poverty would have been my best friend but now it is a thing of the past. I am not only food secure but my income has also continued to increase,” Phillip says with confidence.
He adds, “I have not stopped farming because I am enjoying it and it is highly profitable to me. Now because I have more income, I am also supporting my youngest brother in college.
Phillip is not just a seed grower but also a trained community agent for savings for transformation groups (S4TGs). World Vision has also supported him and other seed growers by linking them to different institutions involved in bean production to get further support and access to other farming services.
Savings for Transformation Groups (S4TGs) are saving and lending groups with membership of 15 to 25 established in the communities. This methodology enables community members to save and access small loans at a small interest which is paid to the group. These savings, fines and interest are shared out among members after a period of 9 to 12 months called a cycle.
From 2018/19 farming season, Phillip is expecting to harvest 24 by 50kg bags of beans which he hopes to sell to Misamfu at K8 per kilogram. From this, he expects to earn about K9, 600 and hope to use the income to build a new house for his family.