Vision: Promoting organic, sustainable agriculture to produce more, healthier crops.
Mrs Rita Hamasokue, one of more than 500,000 small scale farmers in Zambia, participated in one of the organic agriculture courses offered at the Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre (KATC) in Chongwe District, Zambia. Organic cultivation soon yielded more produce and now she’s a successful farmer in her village, looking after eight orphans. Many people visit to get her advice.
More than 1,200 small-scale farmers and their families benefit from the courses offered by KATC, a farmer-training institution run by the Jesuits in Zambia. Established in 1974, the centre made the shift from conventional agriculture to organic, sustainable farming in 1990. Today KATC is recognised as a leading centre in Africa in the field, actively advocating for organic farming and against GMOs.
KATC offers a series of courses ranging from three days to two weeks. The centre conducts field days at its demonstration plots as well as at small-scale farms and local schools. KATC strives to be gender inclusive, reserving at least 30% of places in its courses for women.
At these courses, local farmers learn how to employ a combination of Indigenous knowledge and new technologies to produce more food. Participants in KATC programmes also gain practical experience in organic gardening, agro-forestry, conservation tillage and organic pest management.
KATC courses feature an HIV-AIDS module, which explains how organic agriculture alleviates poverty, boosts food security and provides more nutritious food, which is useful for both prevention of HIV and for the care of those who are positive.
Another course offered by KATC is the Appropriate Technology Workshop, started in 1982. The workshop researches and develops equipment and tools suitable for production and use in rural areas. Six-week blacksmithing courses are offered in rural areas.
An interesting feature of KATC is study circles in villages. A small group of 7 to 12 farmers come together to form a group and choose the topic they would like to study.
Fr Andrew Simpasa is Director of KATC and runs a team of agronomists, a biologist, an animal specialist, an agri-business specialist, an agricultural engineer, a forester, blacksmiths, volunteers, and administrative staff. Fr Andrew recently took over from Br Paul Desmarais.
Br Paul devoted over 50 years of service to Zambia and the Kasisi Agriculture Training Centre (KATC). Through his vision and leadership, KATC has helped hundreds of farmers attain sustainable livelihoods through organic farming. He has championed sustainable development and caring for the earth, our common home.
Project director: Fr Andrew Simpasa SJ
Visit the KATC website: http://www.katczm.org
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