By Evelyn Mutinta Moomba Eshine farmer
For the past few years, I have been involved in farming activities mainly for home consumption and once in a while trade.
From the onset, I must state here that farming is a very lucrative business but has challenges.
However, if one has to eat, they must at least learn to produce.
This is the financial independence that we all need.
It comes in different forms. Others like to buy, and others like to produce and sell, but whatever the case, both must benefit mutually, though the producer must get more in order to produce more.
I have had difficulties producing more in the recent past due to unstable market prices. For instance, in 2019, I produced 120 by 50kgs of maize and at the time, the price for our staple food had really dropped to undesirable prices for a peasant or small scale farmer like me and others in these villages.
The, then prices of maize, made most of us peasant/small scale farmers decide to reduce our focus on maize production as decided that now it was time to do more of cash crops like soya beans.
Memory loss or lapses? I think no, but humankind loves money, and hence, we forgot that we needed to plant more maize because out of it is our so much loved nshima. Amidst all this, there is also an aspect of nature. We don’t control rains and our Almighty God, can decide when to give us rains and not to give us and oh yes, scientists will tell us that there are climate issues hence it rained heavily or never rained leading to crop destruction.
However, the little maize that all of us peasant farmers produced in 2022-2023 sold out at a very good price of K280 per 50kg, and this has motivated us to now plant more this year.
I am a no finer brainer nor an economist but in my view, when most of us peasant farmers including those joining us in producing food for themselves this coming season take farming serious, there are higher chances that mealie meal prices or the cost of our staple food, will in 2024 reduce to lower prices or at least levels where we as producers will still benefit and produce more and those who only buy and can’t produce due to various reasons, will be able to buy.
In this circle, as a peasant farmer, I strongly feel that the pricing of our maize/nshima must and should continue to be very fair because it takes time and hard work to til the land, buy seed, drop it in the soil, wait for rains, weed, harvest and finally get it ready into nshima or market.
Tedious process for a small girl or small-scale farmer, right?Having done my own survey (my findings are not backed by science). Zambia’s nshima/maize is 90% produced by peasant or small-scale farmers in the villages where we ran away from witchcraft.
How nice that the witches in the village produce nshima for all of us in peri and urban areas. Interesting, isn’t it?My village people, if they were evil, as portrayed, I am sure they would make sure that the ntongo of nshima gets stuck while being swallowed.
Anyway, the commercial farmers or big guys in farming, especially maize, may just comprise 10% countrywide, and usually, they sell their maize to better markets out there.If this is the scenario. Why should we be unhappy with my village people who are working hard in those maize fields to have their maize crop bought at K280 per 50kg?
Just why should those that produce continue eating at the heads of those poor farmers in Mbala, Mugubudu, Lufwanyama, Mumbwa, or indeed Lusaka West and Chongwe?
Having stated that. I admit that while we all need to eat cheaper food, we, peasant farmers, also deserve a better price for our handwork. This is a catalyst for peasant farmers to produce more and more.
I end by inviting my fellow girls, women, and youth to join us in producing our own food and sell the surplus so we can eat the same maize but turned into sharwama, pizza, and all.
Please don’t slaughter me especially you Lozi men who think that you can live on fish without tiling land and plant rice and you Luvale men who think that pineapples just drop from Mwinilunga skies without someone going to prepare the land.
Eventually, that which we can produce with our God-given hands, we must produce as directed by our creator that “Go ye in the world and eat what you will plant”.
I end here for today.I remain yours, the upcoming farmer.Ndamana ndime wenu.
Kalemba September 29, 2023