Small-scale is not downscale for Zambian farmers

Zambia’s small-scale commercial farmers have a robust attitude towards agriculture. Many of them work, using their wages and salaries for cash flow, while they build up their agri-businesses and look ahead to full-time farming.

Stephen Kayule, from Kabwe, grows cabbages, brinjals (egg plant) potatoes and yellow maize, and keeps poultry, on 5ha. He irrigates with an overhead sprinkler system supplied by a borehole.

While Stephen works for a transporting contractor on the mines, 680km from home, his wife manages their fields. A ‘single’ man in the mining environment, he cuts his living costs at work to the bone. “Every nine days, I go home,” says Stephen.

Once he gets to his farm, he loads produce onto his farm bakkie (LDV) and drives it to the Congolese (DRC) border. “It’s 430km to the border,” he tells Seems like a lot of driving, but he wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t worth his while financially, he says.

“There’s a big trading area at the border where the Congolese come to buy food. In one or two days I can sell 4 000 head of cabbages, which is good business for me.”

When Africanfarming,com quizzed Stephen about prices at these border markets his answer was to the point: “Prices are determined by supply and demand and fixed by the cartels, through which farmers trade.”

Stephen works out his costs to the last cent and then budgets to the lowest market price. “The price of cabbages goes from K3,00 to K5,00 (per head) and if I can produce for K1,30 (per head), then of course, it’s worth my while,” he says.

Pragmatic and energetic, with marketing skills, Stephen is certainly the type of farmer Zambia needs to encourage.

* Please mail with any farming questions.

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