|The secondary school in Senanga town on the western shores of Zambia’s great Zambezi River is just the latest new market to have been sourced to enable farmer Friday Matamolo to sell the cabbage he started producing, last year.|
One of 28 members of the Namatala Commodity Group established by the Market Orientated Rural Enterprise Project (MORE) in Lui Wanyau district of Senanga, Friday says that just weeks ago he sold 6,000 head of cabbage to different markets in the town, and generated €90 (£80) from the transaction.
Self Help Africa has been working alongside its local partners ‘Keepers Zambia Foundation (KZF) to source markets for produce being grown by members of Namatala and 73 similar farmers commodity groups in Senanga, and as well as opening accounts with the local school the project has sourced buyers in local hotels and restaurants, and traders who sell both in local village markets, and also transport the produce to the larger markets of the main Western Province towns of Mongu, Lukulu, Kaoma and Sheseke.
Senanga Secondary School bought more than 2,000 heads of cabbage from the Namatala growers during the preceeding fortnight, and also purchased tomato, onion and groundnuts from other growers.
Friday Matamolo says that it has been easy to produce cabbage in the rich fertile soils of Lui Wanyau district, which stands to the southern end of the Bartose Floodplain, one of Africa’s last great wetlands.
‘Once we had been organized these farmers into a commodity group and had provided them with the seed stock and the training to begin producing cabbage, we were confident that the enterprise was going to work. We knew the soil around here was good, and that if we could source the markets then the enterprise would be a success’, said the project’s local field officer Muyunda Muyunda of KZF.
A father of eight, Friday Matamolo says that the enterprise is already generating valuable additional income for his household, and believes that the extra funds will help to tide his family through the lean dry months of Autumn, before they can harvest their crops in late Spring.
Friday Matamolo’s near neighbour Douglas Simangolwa Makaya is also a member of the Namatala Commodity Group. Aged 73, he confirms that he too is seeing the benefits of the new enterprise. ‘I have money in my pocket that I did not have before I started growing and selling cabbage’, he said.
There are a total of 2,504 local farmers participating in producer groups established when the MORE project was started, in 2008.
Membership of MORE’s 74 commodity groups is made up of 1,305 women and 1,197 male farmers, with groups engaged in a wide range of different enterprises including cabbage, tomato, onion and cassava production to groundnut, rice, millet, sorghum and maize growing. A number of other groups have specialized in livestock farming in commodity groups for cattle, goat and pig rearing, while a handful are focusing their attention on other income generating activities such as poultry rearing, fish farming, and the production and sale of thatched grasses.
‘It is a matter of identifying the markets for different produce and then getting the balance right between production and market demand’, says Self Help Africa’s programme co-ordinator Kaliki Mwila. ‘You do not want to saturate the local market with too much of one product or it will drive the price down, and discourage the farmers', he says.