“There’s real joy in hard work.” That’s the motto of Chipembi Farm College of Agriculture, a United Church partner in Zambia. For the past few years, faculty and students have indeed been working hard—to integrate into the college’s curriculum a program on conservation farming.
Adapted to smallhold farming, conservation farming emphasizes minimum tillage, using permanent soil cover (mulch), and using organic fertilizers such as thermal compost and animal manure. Where it has been practised, crop yields have usually increased significantly, so much so that conservation farming is now viewed as an important way to reduce global hunger.
Two years ago, the college’s 200-plus students developed a two-hectare demonstration plot where they are growing corn, cotton, peanuts, and other food and cash crops using conservation farming techniques. The increase in yields has been stunning, says Paul Samba, the college’s principal.
In May 2014 the United Church, with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, approved a grant to Chipembi College to develop an extension service to take conservation farming into surrounding communities. Graduates of the college provide the training for local farmers.
The college is owned by The United Church of Zambia, a Mission & Service partner. According to the Rev. Jonathan Sikazwe (sik-ah-zway), a bishop of The United Church of Zambia, “If we go the conservation farming way, there shall be more food in our households, and we shall conquer hunger and poverty.”
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