Mumbuna Kufekisa, (51) talented television producer and presenter, farms to fulfill his love of nature. He worked and farmed part-time until last year, when he switched to full-time farming.
“I grew up on a farm in Livingstone, and I have always liked plants and animals,” says Mumbuna who is married to Priscilla, and has two daughters, Mukakazi (23) and Jessy (10).
PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE HELPS
Mumbuna has a degree in Communication and experience in presenting and reporting on Africa and international stories. But he is fast becoming skilled at growing crops and running cattle.
He joins an increasing number of Zambian professionals, doctors, engineers and bankers, who are leaving the corporate world and moving into farming.
While their parents would have eked out a living on the land, this generation is turning farms into businesses.
“Most of Zambia’s wealthy people are farmers which shows that farming can be profitable rather than just an exercise in subsistence,” he says.
His switch to farming was an easy decision since he had grown up on a farm and had a love affair with rural life. He was fortunate to acquire traditional land under chief Nkole of the Swaka people in Kapiri Mposhi.
REWARD IN EARLY HARVESTS
Mumbuna’s first harvest in 2010 was 8 250kg of maize off a dryland operation. This showed him how financially rewarding farming could be. After that he diversified into sweet potatoes and soya while holding onto the maize.
He took 500kg off his first soya crop, sold to a food processor in Lusaka. The 1250kg sweet potato harvest was sold to traders from the farm.
EXPANDING AND DIVERSIFYING
“As I expanded I encountered challenges. One of these was the delayed (maize) payments from the Food Reserve Agency.” The combination of delayed payments and high input costs meant Mumbuna had to skip two seasons.
“I financed my farming from my salary. Being a family man there were other pressures on my income,” he says.
However, good timing, diversification and sound decisions have played a role in transforming Mumbuna’s business. During the last two seasons things have really taken off for this farmer.
KNOWLEDGE COUNTS IN FARMING
Arming himself and his farm assistant with knowledge on livestock farming acquired from workshops run by Livestock Services at the Lusaka Showgrounds, he is now rearing goats and breeding fish.
“I recognised knowledge as being key, and, to acquire it one must attend practical workshops. That I did a lot, and still do,” he says. Mumbuna also attended vegetable management and drip irrigation workshops to widen his range of knowledge and improve his farming skills.
His investment in learning is already showing returns.
Mumbuna expects to harvest 3 300 fingerlings from a start-up aquaculture venture he began with 300 stock fingerlings. “This May I should be able to produce fish for sale and breeding.”
SPECULATING AND RAISING SMALL STOCK
A foundation herd of 20 breeding goats was his next investment.
He also buys and sells goats and sheep for which he says there is a good demand. He made the 1 000km trip to the Shiwangandu area of Muchinga province to observe first-hand the demand from markets along the rail line and in deep rural areas. “There is a very healthy demand.” On his last trip he delivered 50 goats and 44 sheep.
“At the moment all my orders for goats and sheep are pre-paid by customers. There is a slaughter option as well which is popular at Christmas and Easter time.”
He says Saudi interest in goat and sheep imports from Zambia should act as a driver for farmers to upscale their goat production operations.
According to Mumbuna, with reasonable flock growth, he should be able to sell just over 100 goats for sale every month.
He has added a poultry unit farming village chickens to his diverse operation but has a cautionary word of advice for other farmers going into poultry.
“The investment has to be there for rigorous disease control. My flock of 300 was decimated and reduced to 50 despite a strict vaccination regime.”
On the up-side, he supplements the fish food with chicken and goat droppings which he also uses as manure for his vegetable compost.
Market-savvy, because of his experience in the media sector, Mumbuna says he has not had many problems marketing his produce.
“I belong to various farm network groups and use platforms like Facebook’s small-scale farmers (farming as a business), from where I can market and reach my customers quite easily,” he says.
He advertises on Facebook and buys animals depending on confirmed customer orders, mostly from the Southern province’s Chirundu district. This is a practice that works well for him. He will extend his advertising reach as he grows.
Mumbuna’s barriers to expansion are lack of power and insufficient working capital.
He is, however, hopeful that government’s rural electrification programme will go a long way to solving power problems. With electricity, he could sink boreholes and install a drip irrigation system which would make year-round vegetable production, and the introduction of cattle, possible.
He appeals to government to create a farmer-friendly loan environment.
“With some assistance where perhaps start-up farmers like myself could access low interest loans, we would really experience a true agrarian revolution helping to eradicate poverty and create wealth,” he says.
His contribution to this revolution has been to dedicate parts of his farm to trial lands. Here seed companies conduct workshops at which they teach farmers about basic agronomy.
“This is my little way of paying back to community. I have invited various seed companies to put up demo plots so that they can educate local farmers,” Mumbuna says.