Monastic Foundation in Zambia- Africa

JUSTICE FOR A SMALL SCALE FARMER: A call from the Second African Synod

by His Excellency George Cosmas Lungu

Bishop of Chipata

&

President of National Conference of Bishops

 

 

PROPOSED PROJECT
Introduction:  The local Church in Zambia has three main priorities that run concurrently with her mission of evangelization. These are: Health, Education and Agriculture. In fact, these areas are not viewed as additional activities to the mission of evangelization. They are seen as intregral part of the mission of evangelization. Although it is Government’s responsibility to provide services in these issues of basic human rights, the Church see herself as supplementing government’s efforts to bring about improved livelihoods for the Zambian people, especially those living in rural areas, the poorest of the poor.
INJUSTICES AGAINST SMALL SCALE FARMERS:
For a long time now, small scale farmers have been terribly exploited. They do not enjoy the fruits of their labour, the sweet of their sweat. Their own land has turned out to be the instrument of their own exploitation. Briefly, farmers work so hard on land that usually they produce enough maize for their own consumption and extra for sale in order to raise enough money for school fees for their children, expenses related to sickness and death with the dawn of HIV/AIDS pandemic.  Because of bad marketing policies of the Government, the middlemen exploit farmers by offering prices that do not put into consideration the production costs. These buyers take advantage of people’s desperation and so buy their maize at a give- away price. Normally a 50 kilogram bag would cost 14 US $. A briefcase buyer would buy at 7 US $, sometimes less and exchanged with second hand clothing.  In this way there is no way in which farmers situation may change for the better if nothing is done with and for the farmers.  
CALL FOR ACTION:
At just ended Second African Synod, I was privileged to make an intervention. I took advantage of this chance to speak on behalf of our poor peasant farmers. I am aware that the situation we face in Zambia is a common experience for a farming community in many other African countries. I strongly believe that it is better to light a candle than to curse darkness as the English adage says. This project is a serious attempt in that direction.
Aim: To help farmers sell their crop at a just and reasonable price thereby putting more money into their pockets. It is hoped that such a move will not just excite production, but it will also make available a ready market for their produce. This kind of empowerment will surely improve farmers’ ability to  access babsic human necessities of life like better food and clothing. Children will be able to go to school, and farmers will afford decent housing.
Strategy:
Phase One:  We intend to buy maize from farmers around the monastery targeting  300 households. We expect to be able to buy 50kilogram bags amounting to 20,000. We will transport this maize to Chipata and keep it in a storage shed. We will only offload the maize when prices have improved on the local market.
Phase Two: In this phase, our focus of attention will be to build a school of agriculture to help farmers in areas of improved methods of farming and diversification. The monastery will help plan and execute this project

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