For my internship at Agriterra I am working in Zambia with a farmer’s association called ‘the Nyimba District Farmers Association’ or NDFA. The NDFA is an association which delivers a wide variety of services, from providing input to educating farmers on matters such as climate smart agriculture and record keeping.
My research partner on the left, a happy Mr. Daka in the middle, and his neighbour to the right.
My assignment at the NDFA is to research how they can improve their services to the members. These members are mostly small scale farmers, who usually have around two hectares of land, 10-15 chickens, some cattle and a few goats. In order to see which services can be improved and how, I am currently interviewing members of the NDFA. As preparation, my research partner/translator and I select a number of farmers beforehand and eventually we interview around 40 farmers per week.
To give you an insight of my work I want to tell you about an interview I had this week with Mr. Daka. Already the journey to Mr. Daka’s village began adventurous as we had to drive on slippery sand roads for about an hour with a motorbike. When we finally arrived the search for his house begun, since street signs and house numbers do not exist in rural Zambia. Luckily, Zambians are very helpful and not only able to direct us to his house, but also told us that Mr. Daka was quite deaf so either we would have to shout our questions or write them down. This was no problem for us however, as we always have our questions with us on paper.
When we arrived at Mr. Daka’s place we introduced ourselves and gave him our survey. What followed was a conversation which was loud, informative and slightly comical with Mr. Daka reading the questions, whilst my research partner and a helpful neighbour of Mr. Daka shouted clarification into Mr. Daka’s ears. In the meantime, I was busy writing down the answers and keep my composure. Who says that field work cannot be fun!
During the interview, Mr. Daka told us he became a member of NDFA in 2014 mainly to increase his knowledge about farming. After he followed a training about record keeping provided by Agriterra this year, he was planning to implement the lessons learnt this growing season. Aside from the record keeping training, Mr. Daka had received several other trainings from the NDFA in earlier years and these had helped him to increase the yields on his farm. Moreover, he told us that he would like to receive more assistance from the NDFA in accessing new markets.
All in all, the conversation took about twice as long as a normal interview, but that didn’t make it any less insightful. In fact, this example showed again the farmer’s interest and usability of effective trainings provided by Agriterra. The ultimate essence of our trainings is to give practical answers to concrete questions and to provide a complete package of advice, training and exchange, with a strong focus on the added value of cooperatives and organisations to farmer members.
Aucke Plantinga, intern Agriterra