|Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre|
Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre (KATC) is a farmer-training institution near Lusaka, Zambia. It is operated by members of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). From its beginning in 1974 until 1990 it taught conventional (industrial) agriculture, but then shifted to organic, sustainable agriculture. KATC offers a series of short courses (3 days to 2 weeks) in organic agriculture (e.g., biological pest management, animal draft power), conducts field days at its own demonstration plots, farms, rural areas, and schools in the area. It also prepares weekly radio programs for Yatsani community radio, and promotes formation of study circles in the villages (adult participatory education).
It started by offering a two-year family residential training programme and doing extension work with neighbouring farmers. The shift from conventional agriculture to organic farming took place in 1990. Farmers are taught how to produce more food on their farms by improving soil fertility and conserving a healthy environment through the use of organic fertilizers (e.g., compost and green manures) and crop rotations. Participants in KATC’s programs are gaining practical experience in organic gardening, agroforestry (improved fallow, living fences, windbreaks and firewood), conservation tillage and organic integrated pest management.
In 1982, the Appropriate Technology Workshop was established. The workshop researches and develops equipment and tools suitable for production and use in rural areas. The workshop hosts blacksmithing courses for 6 weeks and 3 months duration targeting rural blacksmiths and rural primary school teachers respectively.
In all the courses that KATC offers, there is a concern for gender balance in the training.
The staff consists of ten agronomists, a biologist, an animal specialist, an agri-business specialist, an agricultural engineer, a forester, three blacksmiths, an administrative officer, two VSO Volunteers, an accountant, a bookkeeper, and a secretary.