Mr. Pendikani Phiri is a diminutive man. Not much over five feet tall. But he has an energetic and passionate manner that belies both his size and his age. I was visiting Mr. Phiri with our partner staff in the Katete region of Zambia. As we toured his fields, there were four young men trailing along with us. I found out that two of them were his sons, Samson and Edward. They were what some might call “strapping lads.” Tall, strong, and healthy. You could see Pendikani’s fatherly pride as they moved through his expansive fields with him. He was a farmer and his sons were farmers. The fruits of their labors were evident in the rows of seven-foot-high maize and lush soya beans. They had adopted or were experimenting with all of the new farming methods being introduced by World Renew. They were even trying new methods of their own, some of which worked and some which did not. Pendikani talked passionately about how he had dug more than 50 “fertility ditches” which are one-meter-deep holes filled with organic matter and planted intensively with maize. When I asked if his sons had helped him with the task, he said, “No, they have their own fields to plant.”
The previous day I had met another farmer, Mr. Daniel Banda, who showed me several of his fields of maize as well. In this part of the country, the window of opportunity for planting is very narrow as the rainy season is not long. The key to a successful harvest is getting as much planted at the start (or just before the start) of the rains. Daniel showed us several fields. They all looked excellent. I asked him on each occasion when he had planted them. “On December 23,” he responded each time. I wondered if he was confused, so I asked him to clarify. “I have eight sons,” he said with a wry smile. No other explanation was needed. Daniel had incorporated the trainings from World Renew including the use of compost and manure with better plant spacing, and improved seeds that were provided through seed loans. That, along with his eight-son family, will assure him of food security and as well as income this year. As we left his farm area we passed through a new field of sweet potatoes. It was clear that this field was still being expanded. He looked at me and said that the boys were working on this field after school each day. Somehow he had convinced his boys that the more they plant, the better their lives will get.
And so they will.
In Zambia, labor is one of the most important constraints to successful farming. When everything is done by hand, and all work must be done in a very short period of time, the availability of strong arms and solid backs is crucial to success. In both of these farm families, I was impressed by how hard farmers work in Zambia and how their families, especially their sons, pull together to ensure the success of their farming ventures.
Prayer Requests for the Southern Africa Ministry Team
- Praise for the safe arrival of our new staff, Ruairidh (Rory) Waddell and Faye Leigh Yu.
- Pray for Rory and Faye’s transition to Malawi and the region as they set up houses and Ruairidh prepares for his family’s arrival in June.
- Pray for Malawi during this post-election time; as of May 26 the results of the election are inconclusive and a recount is about to occur.
- Pray for the safety of our staff as they move around the region on difficult roads and sometimes treacherous conditions.
- Pray for our many new partnerships that are just taking shape. May our vision become one with these new church partners. Specifically pray for our potential partnerships with the United Church of Zambia, Living Waters Church in Malawi, and Word Alive Church in Malawi. Also pray for potential new partnerships with the Blantyre Synod of the Presbyterian Church. We hope that these new partnerships will reap great rewards as we expand our programs in the region.