By Filius Jere
“Farmers must always use every drop of remnant rainwater by engaging in dry season vegetable production as soon as they are through with their field crops,” says Joshua Nyirenda of Luse Cooperative, Chikomeni’s Chiefdom in Lundazi. “When a farmer goes into vegetable production, he or she will ensure that they have enough food and income all year round.”
Mr. Nyirenda is one of many successful dry-season vegetable producers under COMACO. Previously, he only produced rain-fed crops like maize, soybeans and groundnuts with COMACO. In a season of high compliance, these crops used to give him a good income. However, this could not take him throughout the year because of his divers needs.
In 2014, Mr, Nyirenda’s cooperative received support from COMACO to construct a shallow well in the dambo. COMACO also gave the farmers a number of high value vegetable seeds, including garlic, chili and tomato. The farmers also received a manual pump called a hip-pump to help irrigate their crops.
Dry season vegetable production, or mere vegetable production for that matter, was a new thing because many people in Chikomeni used to depend on poaching. Because of this, many failed to utilize the assistance from COMACO well. However, Mr. Nyirenda and his younger brother Chimseu persevered. The two brothers opened up a new garden in a nearby dambo and put into practice all the techniques of conservation farming that they had used in their crop fields. These included digging planting basins, compost making and crop rotation.
“Because of this, our vegetables had a natural taste and many people came to buy from us,” says Chimseu the younger brother. “Our most regular customers were from the surrounding villages. However, we also received big orders whenever big organizations came to conduct workshops in our area.”
Joshua and Chimseu now had a regular source of food for their families and also income throughout the year. Because of this, their families became healthy and they could afford to meet many demands in their families that required money.
In addition, they were able to keep enough money to improve their lives. They were able to build good houses, buy oxen and a ripper and other conservation equipment to use in their crop fields. Soon, many farmers came to hire their equipment and more money came to the two brothers.
After seeing how successful Joshua and Chimseu were because of vegetable gardening, more people have started to engage in dry season vegetable production. Because of this, everyone is food secure and also has enough income for everyday necessities and also for health and the education of their children.