Grace Musonda is a Zambian teacher and farmer and a regular visitor to the Agritech Expo that happens this year from 27 to 29 April at Chisamba. She teaches at the American International School of Lusaka along Leopards Hill Road and her farm is in Mansa in Luapula Province. Annemarie Roodbol, a journalist with the organisers of the Agritech Expo, asked her a few questions.
You describe yourself as a teacher and a farmer. Please tell us more about your work and in particular the farming operations you are heading up, the history and the sectors you are involved in.
Well, I am a lady aged 39, by profession a teacher and I’m currently working at the American International School of Lusaka. My husband and I have been farming for the past 10 years now. We acquired our land in 2005, had our first crop of groundnuts in 2007. We also bought 16 heifers and one bull in 2007. We experimented with cassava growing between 2008 and 2012. At present we are involved in maize, edible beans, cattle and are about to venture into horticulture.
Did the recent drought have an impact your farm?
Thankfully we have not experienced the drought because we are in the rain belt area.
Are you receiving advice from the government or from industry organisations?
We receive veterinary advice from the government.
What are the main challenges facing your business at the moment?
The distance has been a challenge because we have to control everything remotely. (Mansa is 765 km along the road from Lusaka.)
How important is technology in the future growth of agriculture in Zambia?
Technology is the future. It is very important because it is the way forward. We need technology for plant breeding, cattle breeding, farming methods, environmental management, and so forth.
What is your vision for the sector?
For more environmentally friendly farming methods without sacrificing profit.
What is your opinion of the position of women in the farming sector? What has been your experience?
Women are the backbone of the development of the farming sector. Women guarantee livelihoods, especially in rural areas and through their production effort they ensure their self-sustenance. Agriculture is the best business for both rural and urban women. They should have better access to land and resources.
What was your experience at Agritech Expo last year?
The show had grown bigger from the previous year. There were more companies and more machinery on display. There was also aquaculture for the first time and a lot of livestock farmers. People had good access to information at information centres.
How important is this event for the Zambian farming community?
Very important, because it helps farmers to access information about the latest technology that can help one to develop. It also gives farmers an opportunity to interact with each other and get views from others.
What are you most looking forward to at Agritech Expo this year?
I would like to see pavilions for successful small scale and emerging farmers to showcase their work.
For more information: www.agritech-expo.com