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Women helping to ensure food security

Maize is grown in 46 of the 53 countries in sub-Saharan Africa; with an estimated 50% of the population depending on it, the crop plays a crucial role in the region’s food security. Zambia’s maize growing season runs from planting in October/November to harvest in April/May, and while it is a vital staple, both for nutritional balance and to maintain soil fertility it can help to grow other crops too, eg soya beans, groundnuts, cassava and sorghum.

In 2017 Kaloko went back to its roots and ran an in-depth agricultural training project, for 12 elderly women heads of households looking after HIV/Aids orphans. The women joined a 10-day agriculture workshop with follow up technical farming advice, covering subjects such as soils, crop rotation, pest and weed control, seed selection and nutrition. Kaloko also gave the women agricultural inputs including 5kg each of maize for planting, along with adequate fertiliser. Latest reports say the crops are looking good and when they are harvested in May we anticipate better yields for the large families these women support. The project is designed to be self-sustaining so the harvested maize should provide income and seed for the next planting. Some of the new information has significantly increased the efficiency of the women’s farming efforts, for example many were using too much fertiliser. This new knowledge will clearly be of long term benefit.

Certainly the growth in confidence and reduction in social isolation for these women has been a major
sustainable benefit of the project. Learning and working together created a reason for them to visit and support one another and they say this will continue.