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Impactful Small Acts: Breaking Ground to Agricultural Diversity


“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones”

This quote is attributed to Confucius and was the rationale behind the Bupilo Foundation’s Kutulo Project Marathon in Lusaka, Zambia that ran from 21st November to 29th November, 2020.

A total of K6, 350 was donated by 30 participants and the proceeds will go towards supporting the Kutulo Project; an initiative that’s raising awareness on crop diversity and empowering rural communities with the resources and skills to cultivate crops that are best suited for specific geographic locations in Zambia. It’s a timely, action-driven initiative that recognises that every single individual has the power to influence and affect change.

 A Historic Problem

Zambia’s agricultural industry holds potential which, 56 years after independence, still isn’t being fully utilised. From as far back as the late 1960s, scholars, economists and journalists have reported on Zambia’s underwhelming investment in agriculture and the country’s failure to diversify its crop production, eradicate hunger, and increase its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through large-scale crop exportation. The country exists in a paradox of possessing sufficient land for cultivation and producing insufficient crops even just for its domestic consumption. Over-reliance on maize as a staple crop, global warming and climate change continue to negatively impact the agricultural industry. There is a general awareness that the country’s food security is constantly under threat and that several parts of the country are in a state of famine. Over the decades, there have been multiple calls for policy changes and diversification of crops. However, there’s also been a malignant resistance and habitual helplessness.

Where to begin? How to begin?

Change Begins with You

Thelma Namonje simply felt inspired to participate in the Kutulo Project marathon. “I read that the purpose of the virtual run was to raise funds for the food security project aimed at helping rural residents. I am an agricultural economist by profession and have done extensive work on food security issues, especially in the rural parts of Zambia.  So this is something close to my heart.”

Thelma also shared her first exposure to social inequality. “I was quite young. My father was working in the mines and I really wanted to go to a certain school for my primary education. Children of the miners at that time used to go to a certain private school but I later realised that it was not every miner’s child who qualified to go there. While my grades where very good, my father’s job grade and income could not allow me to get in.”

That experience coupled with other injustices that she’s faced, have taught Thelma to work hard for the kind of life she wants and to be passionate about supporting socio-economic change. “Other than my participation in the marathon, I also engage in policy dialogue through the institute I work for. We focus on improving agricultural policies that enable a level playing field for the smallholder farmers who are the majority in Zambia.”

Like Thelma, you too can leave a small print and make a big difference. Change always begins with you.

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