From humble beginnings to emergent farmer


 By Mainecy Hampeyo - Operations Manager, Lusaka Region 

On a 40-hectare piece of land being prepared for planting, Morgan Manchishi steers his John deer tractor, commanding it to move to the right as it pulls a ripper that cuts a long slit into the unploughed ground.

In 1990, Morgan was a novice in farming, producing between five tonnes and six tonnes of maize on a two-hectare piece of land in Nkhomesha village in Chongwe District, on the outskirts of the capital Lusaka. Today, the 49-year-old father of two is cultivating 40 hectares of maize and producing an average of 125 tonnes.

Morgan attributes his success to a business opportunity of working as a sales agent for Zamseed and Omnia for five years.

“This has become my main source of income,” says Morgan. “The business of working as an agent laid the foundation for me because that was when I started appreciating farming as a business,” he adds.

Instead of collecting the commission in form of cash for every consignment of seed sold on behalf of Zamseed, Manchishi says he always opted to get farming inputs instead; a smart move that enabled him to slowly increase the maize field to 40ha in the 2015/2016 farming season. From his farming business, Morgan has over the years managed to purchase a 60 hp John deer tractor, a boom sprayer, a planter, and has sunk a borehole at his farm. His success has also impacted farmers within the community who have benefitted from accessing seed, fertiliser coupled with extension services at their doorstep.

Sixty- year-old Joyce Luwayile, one of those that access seed, fertiliser coupled with extension services from Morgan, said her yields and income levels have improved and she no longer incurs high transportation costs.

The savings on transport and the knowledge on the correct farming practices have enabled Luwayile to expand her maize field from 0.5heacters and producing two tonnes of maize, to four hectares and achieving a yield of about 16tonnes.

“I have saved money for transport and time of travelling because I am able to buy inputs from Manchishi right in the community. I am now able to spend more time in the field and employ the right farming methods to further increase my levels of production” says Joyce.

A baseline survey conducted by IAPRI in 2016 revealed a sharp increase in the number of farmers that planted improved seed in 2016. Nationally, 62 per cent of rural households used improved seed (irrespective of crop) which was a general increase in the use of improved seed by 33 per cent since 2002. During the same period, the number of seed companies also increased from five to approximately 16. This suggested that the increased private sector participation in the seed sector had contributed to the adoption and use of improved seed.

As an organisation that stimulates and supports private sector investment in the smallholder market, Musika has facilitated the penetration of private firms into the smallholder market, in all provinces of the country, with information-based distribution models including irrigation, mechanisation technologies and safe chemical use.

Between 2012 and 2016, Musika recorded over 335,000 smallholder farmers that purchased inputs from 28 of its client firms that had invested in extensive ‘last mile’ distribution networks for products and extension into rural communities.

With Musika’s support, a total of 2,131 agrodealers, agents and sales representatives were developed by the firms to increase smallholder access to seed, fertiliser, agrochemicals, farm equipment, and technical information necessary to encourage adoption of productivity-enhancing technologies in order to maximise the benefit of their usage.