I am Tendai Chiweshe, a 29-year-old Zimbabwean holder of a Diploma in Agriculture, and currently in my third year towards a degree in Agriculture Economics, Education and Extension. Presently, I am employed as an agriculture teacher in Mount Darwin, Chakoma village, with three-years’ experience in educating tomorrow’s agripreneurs.
In response to the call, I propose to establish a farmer field school by coupling our local hand-operated bush pump with a solar-powered submersible pump, and installing a one-acre drip system, proximal to the bush pump.
A solar pump with Brushless DC motors, which receives power from the PV panels, will be installed. This system will not have any batteries. Hence, the solar pumps start early in the morning and continue to work till late evening.
Farmers will be taught to grow, manage and market high-value crops sustainably. Proceeds from the project will be used to purchase a motorbike for the local extension worker, to enable increased household supervision and enhance production. Furthermore, the same proceeds will be used as seed capital for village saving-and-loans groups, whereby farmers borrow capital and repay it with interest.
Motivation for the project stems from the need to empower farmers in Chakoma by ‘giving them the fishing rod and not the fish’. The main point is to use the field school to practically address inefficient agronomic practises that are not environmentally sustainable, while educating farmers to make sound economic and environmentally sustainable farming decisions—to improve yields and income, so they lift up their livelihoods.
Central to the project is the fusion of business principles and ethics in agriculture. My goal is to banish the ‘copycat syndrome’ in farmers: that which sees them producing the same produce, sparking price wars to their own detriment. I will be gratified in using the knowledge and experience I have acquired, cross-pollinated with indigenous knowledge, to create a sustainable socio-economic future for the Chakoma farmer.
Steps to achieve project:
- Stakeholder buy-in.
- Engaging irrigation engineers for bush-pump-solar coupling.
- Installation of drip system.
- Field school establishment.
- Produce marketing.
- Purchase of extension motorbike and establishment of micro-finance unit.
To get the project afoot, I have engaged the headmaster of my school and the local leadership, including the ward extension officer. They have all expressed a keen interest and pledged their full support.
Project success will be measured through:
- an acre increase in land under irrigation;
- establishment of a vibrant farmer field school;
- purchase of a motorbike for the extension officer;
- establishment of a farmer micro-finance unit;
- increased household extension coverage by the extension worker;
- increased farmer land under sustainable cultivation owing to access to capital and knowledge on sustainable agriculture;
- behaviour change observed in informed crop choice, coordinated input purchase, and produce marketing.
The grant will be used as follows:
- USD 1,000 for coupling of bush pump with submersible solar pump by June 2016
- USD 1,600 for tank and stand purchase July 2016
- USD 1,500 for drip-kit purchase August 2016
- USD 700 for seed, fertilizer, and chemical purchase September 2016
- USD 100 crop insurance
- USD 100 reserve.
Blogpost and picture submitted by Tendai Chiweshe (Zimbabwe): tendai.chiweshe14[at]gmail.com
The content, structure and grammar are at the discretion of the author only.
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