On the sidelines of the 8th African Agricultural Science Week (AASW) and CCARDESA General Assembly recently held in Durban, the CAADP-XP4 and AICCRA co-jointly hosted a Gender Side Event under the theme “Fostering Agribusiness and Gender/Youth Responsive Food Systems.” Here, the success stories of young and female agricultural entrepreneurs were celebrated, with a specific focus on those employing climate-smart initiatives and technologies. Participants from several SADC member states, such as Botswana, Tanzania, Namibia, Malawi, Eswatini, and Zambia, shared their agricultural experiences, highlighting triumphs and challenges.

One notable participant was Mr. Abel Hangoma, a Zambian Computer Engineer-turned-full-time organic farmer. Known as the “Radical Farmer,” Hangoma abandoned formal employment to pursue organic farming. This venture has earned him 6 awards in just three years and recognition as Zambia’s top organic farmer.

Hangoma founded Organic Farm7, a company committed to redefining organic farming and encouraging millions to appreciate and aspire to farming. Through Farm7, Hangoma and his team have demonstrated innovative ways to combat poverty, climate change, food insecurity, and gender inequality, largely using environmentally-friendly methods.

“We’ve created jobs, manufactured plant-based fertilizers without chemicals, and rehabilitated depleted soils,” Hangoma explained. “Through platforms like Facebook, we’ve influenced millions of people to embrace farming and environmentally-friendly techniques.”

Besides offering training to stakeholders, Farm7 collaborates with researchers on technology development and dissemination. They also experiment with and pioneer organic practices that are easy to adopt and suited for the African context. “We’re not just a farm; we’re a force championing organic farming in Africa,” Hangoma asserted.

Reflecting on the opportunity to participate in the 8th AASW and CCARDESA General Assembly, Hangoma saw it as a blessing and a significant boost to his farming reputation.

“The science week gave us a fresh perspective on opportunities in agriculture and how we could better position ourselves to aid the continent’s progress,” Hangoma said.

He concluded by recognizing the immense exposure gained from participating in the event and expressed his enthusiasm for the wealth of African agriculture opportunities. “It’s encouraging to see Africa’s vast potential in agriculture,” Hangoma remarked.

“I will forever remain indebted to CCARDESA for this rare opportunity to participate in this event”, ended the Radical Farmer.

The author is the Coordinator of Technology Transfer & Partnerships at the Ministry of Agriculture, and she is also a CCARDESA Information, Communication & Knowledge Management focal point person for Tanzania.