The Harvest Fund’s mission is to empower smallscale female farmers and equip them with the tools necessary for survival without aid. As part of our continued effort to show support for our farmers, we want to shine a spotlight on the journey of one woman who truly embodies the leadership, resilience, and enthusiasm inherent in becoming a successful smallscale farmer.
Prisca was born in 1966, in Chipata, Eastern Province, Zambia. Although life was certainly challenging, and her family often struggled to earn enough money for food and clothes, Prisca’s early childhood was one of relatively little worry. Her father, a driver for the Minister of Health, and her mother a seamstress, both fully supported sending Prisca and her three older siblings to school. Unlike many Zambian girls in rural areas, Prisca attended school full-time and excelled in her classes all the way through Grade 7.
Prisca’s life seemed to change overnight when her father passed away unexpectedly. With little time to process their grief, Prisca and her siblings had to assume responsibility alongside their mother for earning money for the family. Prisca’s situation was further complicated when she became pregnant a few short months after her father’s passing. Only fifteen years old at the time, Prisca decided to drop out of school and married the father of her child soon after.
Although her pregnancy came as a shock, Prisca felt a newfound sense of purpose and directed all her energy towards motherhood. With the support of her husband, who had a successful career as a fisherman, Prisca flourished in her role as a mother and went on to have four more children. The early stages of family life and marriage reminded Prisca of her childhood before her father’s death. It was a time of stability and comfort.
However, these feelings of tranquility did not last long. Not even three years into marriage, Prisca’s husband died, leaving her alone to care for five children. Life after the loss of her husband was extraordinarily difficult. Without his financial support, Prisca and her children had little to no access to basic necessities like food and water. During this period, Prisca also could not afford to send any of her children to school.
Determined to provide a better life for herself and her kids, Prisca decided to move her family to the Kafue District of Central Zambia. Prisca hoped to start a new life closer to her older sister who had a small plot of land for farming.
Her children were constantly hungry, and three of them passed away over the course of her early journey as a farmer.
When asked about how she managed to continue farming, especially in times of almost unimaginable difficulty, Prisca revealed that her faith in God was her source of strength. She never lost the hope that one day God would send her the assistance she needed. One day, she looked to the heavens with a dire request:
"I prayed for help and God sent The Harvest Fund to alleviate my problems"
In 2019, Prisca was one of fifteen farmers who was selected to participate as The Harvest Fund’s pilot cohort. A member of the Chikoka Women's Club, Prisca and her fellow club members completed a highly competitive selection process and impressed the selection panel with their creativity and teamwork skills.
Working with the Harvest Fund meant that Prisca now has exposure to an agricultural training program which ensures that farmers can adapt to drought-prone terrain and sustainably increase their crop yields. Also, she can apply for microfinance loans to help finance climate-smart agricultural technology including PICS grain storing bags, soil testing services and solar water pumps.
Since the start of her partnership with The Harvest Fund, Prisca has taken full advantage of the opportunities available to her. Not only has she approached the training program with an unmatched level of enthusiasm and curiosity, but she successfully applied her training to her farming practices.
After only a single season (less than a year) of working with The Harvest Fund, Prisca continues to produce crop yields that are enough to feed her children, herself, and her fellow community members.
Also, using the money she earns from selling portions of her harvest, Prisca sent all her children back to school, including her youngest daughter who is now close to completing Grade 8.
When asked about how she feels about her progress with The Harvest Fund, not only did she express her delight that her children have reached levels of schooling she was unable to reach herself, but she also mentioned her immense satisfaction with the physical and mental health benefits she has experienced on her journey. Prisca stated “I look beautiful. I have big hips.” Not only a sign of physical health, but having bigger hips signifies that unlike in her early years as a farmer, Prisca now experiences feelings of happiness and beauty that she could never afford herself before.
Everyone who interacts with Prisca says she lights up the room. Not only does her infectious smile and laughter make her the center of attention, but others naturally follow her lead. Her younger cohort members often say that they look to Prisca for inspiration. Her struggles early on in life and her determination to overcome them, have inspired her community to approach their struggles with a similar attitude. In large part because of Prisca’s leadership, every member of The Harvest Fund’s pilot program eliminated hunger in their household and achieved complete food security within one year.
Prisca’s success is far from over. In addition to her partnership with The Harvest Fund, Prisca started volunteering with a community group that helps local children access essential educational resources like pencils and uniforms. Looking to the future, Prisca says she wants to continue to play a vital role in her community and hopes to share her knowledge with the coming generations. Her greatest wish is that her children, grandchildren, and the generations that follow will benefit from her adversity and hard work.
Interested in learning more about farmers like Prisca? Sign up for The Harvest Fund newsletter or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn to learn more about our farmer participants and our quest to help them increase their agricultural productivity and escape their marginalized position in society.
Elissa is a Communications Intern for The Harvest Fund. As a student majoring in Government at Georgetown University with minors in Spanish and Sociology, she is interested in pursuing a career in International Development.