Both of you have had training on organic agriculture before, how was this any different?
Gaudencia: This was absolutely amazing! It was very interactive and I was happy to network with our Zambian colleagues. We did a lot in the one week of the training with so much learning happening. There are definitely a bunch of new ideas that I will incorporate into my work.
Appyson: It was a great experience compared to the other training I have had before.This training was international and it consisted of a diverse group of knowledgeable people sharing skills and also creating a space for us to share the challenges we face and how to handle them. I also appreciated the coordination of the groups from both countries to present a topic that happened before the actual training. This made it easier to work together before we met each other in person.
What effect has the ToToT had on you?
Gaudencia: I picked up a lot of information and skills that I can incorporate into the current modules I am teaching to my students. I am also keen to go out and deal with farmers directly and include the government, especially agriculture extension officers. I am willing to combine the work that I do for my students and the farmers in the field.
Appyson: I got into organic farming way back before I went to college in my home village. I got more into organic at my workplace and now with this training, I am more empowered in designing more farms that embrace the four principles of agriculture; care, heath, ecology and fairness. With these principles driving the atmosphere of our work, we look to expand our organic activities and practices, for instance, crop diversification and rotation, and using natural forests as grazing areas.
How do you think you will apply what you learnt from the ToToT back in your community?
Gaudencia: I am already doing it. What I really found fascinating and something I am doing is the Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS). It is such an amazing tool that can be readily available for our farmers and players in the organic field. It enables farmers to continue growing good quality produce without the stress of getting certified with organisations. With PGS, our peers who are fellow farmers and even customers are involved in the certification process.This is very realistic for our community and less bureaucratic. I have approached a couple of partners and we have assembled a group of stakeholders to set up a PGS for moringa producers. We want to also expand to other producers.
Appyson: I will share the knowledge with my work colleagues through Kaluli Development Foundation (KDF), an implementing partner. I will also set up an organic demonstration plot at my backyard garden and start making my own compost manure (Bokashi) to be used in the garden. Aside from the variety of vegetables I will grow, I will conduct meetings with different stakeholders and farmers to make this a reality.
Why is organic important to you?
Gaudencia: There has never been a time where organic has been as important as now. Organic addresses the health of the human being and the environment. It is a win-win situation. We have so many health related issues that are a result of spraying our soils and air with chemical inputs, but with organic, we need not worry about this. I am happy that our society is taking a keen interest in the way we eat, what we eat and where our food comes from. The Covid situation made us think of what we do to build resilience and inspired us to eat organic. This gives us a better fighting chance.
Appyson: it is an answer to the biggest problem in Africa which is food security. Food security is a situation where healthy food is available. Farmers have access to sell their own healthy products to generate income and meet their health nutritional requirement (balanced diet). Organic encourages integrated and diversified farming in both small scale and commercial farms. It is affordable because it uses locally available resources and is an adaptation measure to climate change.
”The interactive nature and practical approach to the training is an an excellent approach that gave participants the SEE, FEEL and TOUCH experience to being a good training facilitatorMuketoi WamunyimaCountry coordinator at PELUM Zambia
Do you have a message for the consumers on how to support and promote organic?
Gaudencia: When people hear of organic, they have grand ideas of the expense. Start small. Start in your backyard. You can grow a few vegetables. This can help in changing the mindset of those around you. Make everyone aware of how and why you grow your food organically, especially children, a major audience in our society that are often ignored. I remember when I was young, I saw my family put manure into the soil. I didn’t understand, but when I went to school, I got to know the importance. Through my graduate studies, I interacted with organisations like the Zimbabwe Organic Producers and Promoters Association (ZOPPA), an organic food and seed festival in Zimbabwe and got to learn so much more. Much as I learnt a lot, the seed of curiosity was sown from my childhood, and that set the foundation for me to embrace organic.
Appyson: Yes, consumers should be encouraged to eat organically grown food because no synthetic fertilizers/ boosters and pesticides are used. Organic food is healthy for the soil, the people and animals. We should embrace food grown with the four principles of organic because it is environmentally friendly and does not harm the earth with harmful inputs.
The Knowledge Centre for Organic Agriculture in Africa (KCOA) project is implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). As part of the project, Trainings of Teams of Trainers (ToToTo) are implemented in cooperation with IFOAM – Organics International and its training program: The Organic Academy in partnership with the Zimbabwe Organic Producers and Promoters Association (ZOPPA) in Zimbabwe. These trainings aim to address Capacity Development Processes for Ecological Organic Agriculture in Africa at Continental and National Level.