Unlike some areas in Zambia where maize crops are experiencing water stress due to a dry spell, our maize, here in the Copperbelt, is benefiting from sufficient rainfall, has passed the critical flowering stage, and continues to grow tall and strong as we head towards harvest in May.
The chicks are now 3 weeks old, half way to maturity, and looking more like chickens every day. Even though I had an expert come to Mbayi in order to teach and prepare us prior to delivery, we were all a bit anxious the first 2 weeks. I even kept an experienced chicken farmer on speed dial whom we consulted often - so many details - and my Poultry Production Manual handy at all times!
The women have been working diligently, observing the birds in order to detect any signs of distress, keeping the feeders and drinkers full at all times, the litter clean, lanterns lit throughout the night, and the braziers burning 24/7.
Just last week I was reading an article in The (Zambian) Post reporting that "in Zambia, national data revealed that stunting impacted about 45% of children under the age of 5". Hungry, underweight youngsters are prevalent in Mbayi. Our Maize and Poultry Projects are bringing hope to children suffering from malnutrition and the opportunity to grow up into healthy adulthood.
This week, as we launch a Goat Project for the Men's Club, there is further excitement and optimism about the prospect of poverty reduction in Mbayi.