The Conservation Farming Unit (CFU), a not for profit company, was set up in Zambia more than 20 years ago with one aim – to promote Conservation Farming (CF) to small and medium scale farmers in Zambia. Since its inception in 1995 the CFU has not altered in this aim. With the backing of the Royal Norwegian Government through their Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the CFU has helped thousands of farming families to adopt CF practices in one form or another. Many of these families have significantly improved their standard of living having the means to improve family housing, send their children to school regularly, release their wives and children from the drudgery of constant hand weeding, increase the area which they farm and add new on-farm income generating activities. The higher yields and lower labour demand that are realised from the adoption of CF have allowed farming families in many cases, to completely change their lifestyles.
The CFU operates in the maize belt of Zambia from Lundazi in the East of the country to Chipata on the Malawi border, further South and West to Choma, across to Mongu in the West of the country and up to Kapiri Mposhi and Mkushi in Central Province. Until very recently the CFU was also working through “In Country Partners” in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi. It is hoped to continue with this work when an alternative source of funding can be found.
There is confusion in many circles as to what CF involves; this article helps to clear some of the fog surrounding this topic. I will also use this opportunity to relate the success that the CFU has had in more recent seasons in dramatically increasing the numbers of farmers adopting CF by the introduction of weed control methods, the most successful of these being farmer training in the use of herbicides. By far the most important food crop grown in Zambia is maize. Therefore this article concentrates mainly on the production of maize.
This is an abstract of the full article published in: Outlooks on Pest Management – June 2016 issue.
Author: Vince Hodson, Technical Adviser, Conservation farming Unit, Zambia