Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Solwezi farmers supported by Kansanshi mining double yields
By Vincent Chilikima in Solwezi
Mon 20 May 2013, 14:00 CAT

KANSANSHI agricultural manager Mike Corken says his organisation's dream of improving small-scale farmers' productivity and production has started becoming a reality.

Speaking during a field day held at Solwezi Trades Training Institute, Corken said Solwezi farmers under the support of Kansanshi Conservation Farming Programme had more than doubled their maize yields.

He explained that prior to the intervention of Kansanshi Foundation in 2010, small-scale farmers were producing an average maize yield of 1.2 metric tonnes per hectare but on their first attempt on conservation farming during the 2010/2011 agriculture season, managed to increase their yields up to 2.6 tonnes.

Corken had projected that farmers would, during the current 2012/2013 season increase their maize yield up to four tonnes per hectare, describing the crop stand as good due to the farmers' increased experience and competence in conservation farming.

He said that with time, farmers were expected to increase their maize yield up to seven tonnes per hectare, adding that those who may be willing to step up their fertiliser and lime regime to commercial level may reach up to 14 tonnes per hectare.

Corken explained that Kansanshi Foundation, a Kansanshi Mining department in charge of corporate social responsibility, identified the support to local small-scale sustainable agriculture as a valuable undertaking because farming existed before and shall exist long after the mining activities.

"We had humble beginnings of seven beneficiaries in 2010, increased to 288 in 2011 and to 600 in the current 2012/2013 season. We intend to support 1,500 farmers in the next 2013/2014 agriculture season and continue thereafter increasing the number in every succeeding season," revealed Corken.
He disclosed that each farmer beneficiary receives inputs for an area within a range of 0.5 to one hectare adding that farmers after harvesting and selling their produce return only 30 per cent of the total cost of the inputs.

Corken further disclosed that the conservation farming programme had embraced and subsidised the production of soybeans, groundnuts, sugar-beans and vegetables in addition to maize, providing farmers with inputs that included seed, fertiliser and agriculture lime.

And officiating at the same function, North Western acting provincial agricultural coordinator Derrick Simukanzye described conservation farming as the farmers' 'magic' to success and implored farmers to engage in sustainable practices that would benefit both the current and future generations.

He also commended First Quantum Minerals' Kansanshi Mining Plc for supporting small-scale farmers by establishing a corporate social responsibility programme in the agricultural sector which he said was supplementing the programmes of the Ministry of Agriculture in Solwezi.

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