Sitoli Phiri is a grape and strawberry farmer in Zambia’s Chongwe district. He is the first in his community to start growing strawberries using the technique of conservation farming. With conservation agriculture, Phiri chooses to go with minimal disturbance of the soil by only making holes in the soil, instead of making furrows for the purpose of planting.
This, he has learnt, allows for maximum retention of organic matter in the soil, therefore making it fertile. Minimum soil tillage also enables the soil to retain moisture, therefore the plants are able to survive long periods of dry spells.
Phiri also uses organic materials such as leaves, grass and crop residues to cover the top soil, thereby enhancing soil fertility. He has learnt that in conservation farming, one does not need to clear the field with fire, instead the farmer retains the residues from the previous harvest to create an organic compost for the crops.