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Friday, August 6, 2010

Notes from Zambia

Aug. 5, 2010

The new day brought new opportunities for deepening our knowledge of COMACO, its members and their families as well as the Zambian culture of the area. The interaction that we have with all of the major players in this initiative is a very important component of our efforts.

Today was basically a continuation of yesterday's events, observing and interacting with trainings and hands-on field experiences. The Farmers Groups worked in a different Chiefdom, where the efforts were focused on speaking with individual farmers about the impact COMACO has had on their lives and farming practices. It was evident that the presence of COMACO has enabled the people to have a market for their produce. COMACO has also taught them to increase their yields and be more efficient in their work. We had to rely on our extension leader, Nathan, to interpret our questions and the responses to the people. Some of the responses showed us that budget record keeping was not a common practice prior to COMACO using Farmer Cards that record data on products being bought and sold. We could see that this could be an area that may improve the stability of the work that COMACO does to make farmers more sustainable. The COMACO extension staff members are trusted by the people and have had a tremendous impact on marketing efforts.

A visit to the New Farmers group was on the agenda for one of the groups. By the positive interactions and relationship building that we noticed between the farmers and extension staff, you would imagine that they have been with COMACO for years. Everyone was engaged in the process and asked many questions. They thanked us profusely for our help and encouragement through song and dance. Of course, the children were always a delight!

Most of the afternoon was open for us to return to our home base, giving us time to keep up with our journals, organize our research notes and blog.

A special added feature to the agenda was a 6:30 p.m. (or 18:30 as the local people refer to it) trip for several team members to harvest honey from a COMACO member's apiary to perform a honey harvest.

A longer than normal electrical outage provided an opportunity for team members to actually slow the day's pace down and spend quality time with each other outside in the cool night air. We discussed deep life issues and reflected on the day's activities beneath the wonderful starlight of southern Africa.

We look forward to what tomorrow will bring us.

The Z-Team


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