Mr Richmond Songolo is a young man from Mumbwa District who started practising conservation farming in 2015, having received training from his local CFU Farmer Coordinator. He is married with four children – one girl and three boys.
He had previously farmed, for about 4 years, a 2ha field using conventional methods. On average, he would harvest about 160 x 50kgs bags on this field (about 80 bags per Ha). Since switching to Conservation Farming methods he has been able to expand the area he farms to 13.5 ha, 3.5 ha of which are rented from his neighbour. He has been able to take on this greater area due to the success of the CF methods and the use of herbicides, and the profits that he has realised, part of which he has used to buy a ripper.
Last season he planted 10 ha of maize, 1.5 ha of soya and 2ha of cotton, having used oxen to rip and hiring a tractor ripping service. He started this land preparation in June, and was finished by October. He was all ready and able to plant with the first planting rains on 23rd November. Despite the dry spell that plagued the area he still expects to yield from his maize field about 250bags per hectare, or 2,500 bags in total. He added that people were surprised to see that the crop was good, thinking that maybe there was rain in his area, when in fact it was the same issue of a dry spell like everywhere else in Mumbwa.
Richmond has just hosted a major field day at his farm, and next year aims to host a District CFU Field Day. He said that, from the time he started Conservation Farming, things have drastically changed for the better for his family. He added that Conservation Farming accords good yields especially when you follow the instructions accordingly, when cultivating and planting and managing the fields. He said Conservation Farming provides more money in the pockets, despite the fact you put in less. He said when he used to practise conventional farming, he used to put in a lot of money, but that with conservation farming its less money and more income now.
He advised other farmers practicing conventional farming that as long they continued to use that method, they will keep going down, and not achieve anything. He said Conservation Farming if a very good system to follow as it’s beneficial, and that there is time for them to change and do the right thing.