YAP Proposal #420: Integrated organic livestock and vegetable farming (Mwendalubi Simamba, Zambia)

LubiSimamba

My name is Mweendalubi Malikana Simamba. I am a 34-year-old young woman who lives in Lusaka, Zambia. I have a degree in Economics and Business Finance and a postgraduate diploma in Economics with a specific focus on development.

I want to impact lives by helping rural communities to become nutritionally self-sufficient by growing their own food in an environmentally safe way. I therefore have pledged to use my knowledge to empower my community by having a farm that uses organic farming practices and opening my operations to the community to come and learn.

I have been farming since the beginning of 2012 on a family farm in Lusaka. Over the years, I have grown vegetables such as okra, tomato, impwa (African eggplant), baby marrow, butternut squash and a host of green vegetables for sale.

I have also had experience rearing free range local chickens for personal consumption. As I learnt more about farming, I discovered that many of the chemicals used in farming operations potentially did more harm than good to the environment. I felt there could be a better way to farm and my research introduced me to organic farming.

I would like to set up a farm that can be used as a model of sustainable agriculture with a view to making rural communities self-sufficient both nutritionally and economically.

By integrating both livestock and vegetable farming on the same piece of land, simple techniques will enable rural communities to farm in a way that does not deplete soils but rather replenish them and improve soil quality over time.

Organic methods eliminate the need for synthetic commercial fertilisers that increase the cost of farming. Where possible, I would like to incorporate indigenous plants.

With some family help, I recently purchased a piece of land. It is 1 ¼ acres in area. The land is in a rural area in Chongwe, which is just outside Lusaka. The land has no form of infrastructure on it making it a perfect place to make my vision become a reality.

In order to begin this journey, I need to sink a borehole and install a drip irrigation system. The cost of sinking a borehole will be approximately K13,000 ($1,182). Installing a drip irrigation system on about three quarters of an acre would be about K11,000 ($1,000).

I am looking to use a system that works with the gravitational pull of the earth to get water to the plants. The area is not connected to the electricity grid and therefore I have chosen to use a pump that does not require electricity. The pump costs K1,100 ($100). This would be used fill up a water tank that is connected to the drip line system.

In addition to environmental safety, I would like to uplift the standard of the community by empowering families to grow enough food so that the excess can be sold. Therefore soil fertility will be a primary focus. These farming methods are likely to also increase yield.

It is documented that yield in Zambia is quite low and increasing yield per square area would be a step in the right direction to improve overall productivity. To this end, an area for making compost out of plant waste will be included in the farm design.

I would like to use raised beds and strategically plan the area to allow close proximity of the vegetable garden to a composting area. To balance the desire to grow indigenous crops and be profitable, I would like to start by planting tomato, impwa, a legume and some indigenous vegetables.

The garden will be planned is such a way that crops that grow well together will be used and plants that keep away pests will be added as well.

In order to produce manure to feed the plants, village chickens and rabbits will be reared. Both chickens and rabbits can be raised for meat and eggs sold as well. Rabbits produce manure that is high in nutrients and this is another reason I would like to add them to this project.

To keep costs low, both rabbit and chicken housing structures will be made of only wood, cheap roofing sheets and chicken wire.

I haven’t had the financial resources I need to fully launch this project. I initially wanted to start with 100 chickens and 10 rabbits. I chose a smaller number of rabbits because unlike village chickens that I have experience with, I have never raised rabbits.

I have read widely and it appears that it could potentially grow into a profitable area of agriculture. I believe that my experience with chickens will help me raise rabbits successfully.

In spite of limited resources, I have made a start by doing the following. I employed a man who lives in the area as a full time worker. Under my direction, a chicken coop was constructed and I have a few Black Australorp chickens. In line with my vision, I used wood, roofing sheets and chicken wire mesh for structure that can comfortably hold 100 adult chickens.

In order to ensure rapid multiplication, I chose breeds of chickens that are good egg layers. The two breeds chosen were Black Australorps and Boschveld breed. Both are hardy birds and free range well.

The Black Australorps can lay more than 200 eggs a year and are on record for having had a hen lay 364 eggs out of 365 days. The Boschveld breed can lay about 200 eggs a year as well.

LubiSimamba2In December 2015, I purchased an egg incubator that can hold 96 eggs so that I could incubate my eggs. I have ordered my first batch of Boschveld eggs to incubate and I should begin incubation by end of March 2016.

Incidentally, when I bought my farm, the gentleman I bought it from had planted maize as it was the rainy season. He planted quite late in the season, but I have weeded it and I’m hoping that I can harvest some maize to use as part of my chickens’ diet. If the yield is not good, I intend to use the maize stalks either as part of a compost heap or ground cover.

To sum it all up, my costs are as follows:

Drilling a borehole will cost $1,182.
A drip line system $1,000.
Water pump $100.
The total cost of housing for 5 chicken houses, each holding 100 adult chickens, and rabbit hutches is K10,000 ($909).
The remaining $1,800 will be used to procure drinkers, feeders, seed, manure, supplementary feed, nest boxes, transport costs and to cover possible hidden costs of the project.

I believe that many rural communities would benefit if this became a success and could be duplicated in many other places.

 

Blogpost and picture submitted by Mweendalubi Simamba (Lusaka, Zambia) – lubisimamba[at]yahoo.com

The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.


This post is published as proposal #420 of “YAP” – our “Youth Agripreneur Project”.

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63 thoughts on “YAP Proposal #420: Integrated organic livestock and vegetable farming (Mwendalubi Simamba, Zambia)

  1. Your progress is absolutely phenomenal Bunde! Your passion is just amazing! Having had a chance to see your progress over the years, I know that not even the sky is the limit! I wish you all the very best

  2. Great project. All the best. #sustainable agriculture is the best way for Africa especially with unpredictable climate changes.

  3. Her goals are clear as is her business plan. Given her experience and acumen in economics with her educational background the estimates on project costs are reasonable. It is evident that due diligence has been done in planning for this project. Not only is it sustainable and eco friendly it has all the potential to be extremely profitable.

    1. I’m glad my goals are clear so other can see how much thought I have out into it. Your support is highly appreciated

  4. Very Clear plan ! Good work ! Just on this part

    ***The area is not connected to the electricity grid and therefore I have chosen to use a pump that does not require electricity. The pump costs K1,100 ($100). This would be used fill up a water tank that is connected to the drip***

    My question is how will the pump work ? What kind of energy will the pump use to pump water ?

    1. Hi Chanda, great question. The pump I have I mind is manual, so someone physically pumps, to fill the tank. I have however received a suggestion that it may be worth considering some sort of solar pump. I am seriously considering it however costs need to be taken into account. Have I answered your question to your satisfaction?

  5. This initiative is timely and relevant to both commercial and subsistence farmers.

    I would be very supportive of seeing this coming to fruition. Well done!

    1. Thank you. It is said that necessity is the mother of invention and we desperately need to grow more food with the resources we have. I’m glad this proposal has inspired such confidence

  6. Food security is so important!!! I love the fact that you are also thinking if ways to preserve the environment at the same time.

    1. I hope in the near futire there will be a noticeable impact and hunger will be a thing of the past in my community. Then this can be replicated elsewhere. Thank you for the support

  7. Good idea. Enviromental friendly farming is the way to go especially for Africa. I would also like some information on where I can purchase the Austrolorp breed. I have been searching for this breed for some time. I keep a flock of 60 /80 village chickens at any given time. I live in Lufwanyama District. Will be grateful for any help. Good luck and wish you all the sucess in your project.

    1. Thank you so much. If you are on Facebook please search for a group called Small-scale farmers (Farming as a business). Join the group and then search for Black Australorps. There are I think 3 vendors on there. If you are unsuccessful please get back to me and I’ll try to help you further. Good day to you

  8. Great stuff! Organic production and sustainable production are so very important in the times we live in. Look forward to visiting your farm in the years to come!

  9. Great ideas coming from a young woman. I cant wait to see how this goes. This will inspire most of us young women to venture into agriculture. Am also slowly becoming intrested in Agriculture. Wishing you all the very best and looking foward to seeing the project successful . GOOD LUCK!

    1. Thank you! The Internet is such a great platform as people see your ideas and are inspired. I know that in Zambia particularly there is a need for more women to be empowered to grow in agriculture. I hope that this idea will help your interest become a reality.

  10. I would call this one a ‘Green’ project because of its inclination towards natural farming practices. We need more of such projects not only for healthier lives but also for a self-healing environment

    1. I like the aspect you bring in on self-healing environment. We do need to take care of the resources we have. I appreciate your input. Thank you

  11. Excellent vision. You may also wish to incorporate a biogas digester in your project in future, this will give you good quality organic fertiliser as well as green energy for coocking and heating and possibly generate electricity in future. You can feed the incubator with organic waste from your Rabitts, Chicken and plant foliage. Great vision wish you all the best.

    1. Thank you Elvis. A biogas digester what a great idea! I’m definitely adding this to future expansion plans. Your support is appreciated

  12. Well researched, planned and informative. i have personally learnt a lot from you since I have recently gone into organic farming (tomatoes spinach cabbage cucumber) as it is healthy and using natural manure from chickens. All the best Mweendalubi and hope you get the funding you deserve.

    1. Thank you Kati. Your comments have been very kind and I’m glad that you have learnt something. All the best in your endeavours as well.

  13. The experience and educational background is perfect for the project. The Environmental awareness and conservation of soil is also vital in running a project of this kind for many years with out facing major repercussions. Good idea madam.

  14. The experience and educational background is perfect for the project. The Environmental awareness and conservation of soil is also vital in running a project of this kind for many years with out facing major repercussions. Good idea madam.

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