Agriterra helps Yakiwe discover green gold on her farm


Nyimba Farmer Yakiwe Lungu narrates the benefits of practicing modernized sunflower production after hosting a sunflower demo field at her farm.

Below is Yakiwe Lungu a farmer from Nyimba District under the District Farmers Association a farmer organization which is currently receiving support from Agriterra.Yakiwe hosted one of the sunflower demonstration plots which were set up by Nyimba District Farmers Association (NDFA) with support from Agriterra Zambia. The demonstration plots were designed to help farmers learn the importance of planting early and using recommended agronomic practices for higher yields.

Yakiwe has been growing sunflower since 2011 using the traditional way where the sunflower crop was only planted as a by the way when all crops considered as important are already grown. In September 2017 Agriterra Zambia with help from experts in the Netherlands conducted a Value Creator mission where it was discovered that most farmers who were growing sunflower for supply to the farmers association were harvesting low yields and the sunflower had low oil content due to poor agronomic practices. As part of the recommendations of the mission, it was decided that demo fields are set up where farmers can be taught on good agronomic practices.

In March 2018, Agriterra Business advisor visited her field to see how the crop was doing and find out what she had benefited from the demonstration plots. Yakiwe told the business advisor that ever since she started growing sunflower, 2017 has been the best year for her because she has never had sunflower with healthy and big stems, heads and heavy seeds inside the heads. She says the stalks are even falling due to the heavy seeds inside the heads of the crop. This has really made her happy and she has adopted the practice in her own field.

Yakiwe says, “I have really seen a big difference between the traditional way of growing sunflower and the modernized method” so she calls it. She says people passing along the field go to her to ask how she grew the crop and the secret behind the big heads. Even the Mozambiquans are asking and she thinks they have also benefited in knowing how to grow the crop to have high and better yields. She says early planting and application of fertilizer really works wonders. She tried to compare the oil content of the sunflower crop she planted without applying fertilizer with the one she planted with fertilizer.

From the two types, she says the one with fertilizer had more oil as compared to the one without. She therefore projects high yield if all environmental conditions remain favorable before her harvest. Her advice to the sunflower farmers is to :
· Plant there crop early
· Apply fertilizer to the sunflower just like they do to maize
· Follow good agronomic practices such as early land preparation, weeding either mechanically or with chemicals.
· To stop the belief in the myth that sunflower grows with very little water i.e. mist
· To take farming as a business. Let’s be serious with our farming to eradicate poverty in our country and region at large
She also advises other agricultural companies especially those in extension services to continue encouraging farmers to take farming as a business. To Agriterra, Yakiwe says continue working with farmer organization, strengthen their capacity and help them realize their potential to offer better services to their members.
Mwansa Lwanga, Online Platform AgriProFocus

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