Golden has been busy ripping his land in preparation for the coming planting season. (Copyright: WFP/Victoria Cavanagh)
Golden Lwiindi, 40, is a smallholder farmer in Zambia’s Southern Province. In the past five years, he has bred more than 50 goats, developed his farm, planted and sold a variety of crops, and bought a hammer mill. He says the secret to his success is thinking of farming as a way to make money, not just as a traditional way of life – adopting new technologies and methods, crop diversification, record keeping and good planning also help.
Golden Lwiindi is a man with a plan. Within the next month he will finish building an office on his farm; within two months he will have planted his crops and increased his acreage of cow peas; within six months he will have opened a grocery shop next to his house; within one year he will have begun a poultry business; and within 10 years, he plans to be a commercial farmer.
Ultimately, Golden wants to be self-reliant. In the meantime, however, WFP is supporting him and other small-scale farmers by lending them either a tractor or a sheller, as well as providing them with a market.
Golden’s dream is to become a commercial farmer and he understands the importance of crop diversification.
“As small scale farmers, we don’t irrigate and we depend on the weather pattern,” he says. “If I only grew maize and the season is bad, then I have a big problem.
Cow peas are a drought resistant crop so even if there’s little rain this season, I’ll still have an income from them.”
In previous years, Golden had only grown cow peas for family consumption. However, after attending workshops run by the Zambian Agricultural Commodity Exchange (ZAMACE) and WFP, he discovered that they were in demand. As the Secretary of Nabayuni Multi Purpose Cooperative, he discussed the idea of combining bags of cow peas from several cooperative members and selling the larger, combined total through ZAMACE to WFP.
“The cooperative members welcomed the idea but not many had planted cow peas so we could only sell 91 bags,” he says. “Now, more than 90% have said they plan to plant cow peas in the coming season.
Right now, there is a lot of uncollected maize in warehouses around Zambia so I don’t think the demand will be too great next year. In our monthly cooperative meetings, we’re encouraging farmers to plant cow peas which have a ready market through ZAMACE.”
Golden contributed four 50kg bags to the sale. After deducting warehouse, transport and empty bag costs, he received approximately US$130.
“ZAMACE is a selling platform for us but also allows us to know what the buyers want for the following season which helps to plan well,” he says.
One component of WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) programme is a lending scheme whereby a tractor or sheller loan must be repaid over three years.
In 2010, Golden received a sheller. This, however, is just one of his sources of income. He has not only tried to diversify his crops but also to vary his farming activities to ensure regular earnings regardless of weather conditions.
“When my father passed away in 2004 and I took over the farm, it was only producing enough for family consumption,” he says. “The first thing I did was buy two oxen and 10 goats. Since then, I’ve planted other crops (apart from maize) and now also have equipment which allows me to provide services to nearby farmers and make a profit.”
Golden lives with his wife, five children and two dependents in Southern Province’s Mazabuka district. This year, he shelled 4, 651 50kg bags of maize from 36 farmers who paid some US$0.25 per bag. Golden spent 27 days using the sheller and made a profit of approximately $950 which enabled him to start building a shop that his wife will manage.
So, what is coming up in the next few weeks for Golden?
“At the moment I’m busy ripping but when the rains come and there is enough moisture to support germination, I’ll start planting.” he says.
With dark clouds above and dampness in the air, Golden knows it will not be long until he starts planting again.