Wesley Chilambe’s background means he has no trouble relating to the farmers he works with as a ZDTP Extension Officer.
“I know what I am talking about because I grew up on a farm,” he says.
Wesley was born in Chingola, in the Copperbelt, and was raised from the age of 15 by the late Henry Oosthuizen, who was a co-owner of Torborough Farms.
After his studies, Wesley became the farm manager on Mr Oosthuizen’s farm and worked there for three years until his mentor sadly died.
“The moment he died was heart breaking, a tragedy for me,” Wesley says.
“He was the one who introduced me to agriculture. He taught me Artificial Insemination (AI), and [practical] farm management.
"He sponsored and educated me from Grade 10 up until Grade 12 and even sent me to college to study general agriculture.
"Lastly but not least, he gave me love and passion for animals.”
Wesley says Mr Oosthuizen had a lot of plans specifically for him. “He made me the made me the way I am. He wanted me to study abroad.”
After leaving Torborough Farms in 2007, Wesley became dairy manager at KSH farm, managing 350 dairy animals.
He then joined the ZDTP as an EO, which says he enjoys because it’s hands on and is strengthening his CV as an agriculturalist.
“I am with my farmers and their animals most of the time. I’m like a link between the ZDTP and farmers.”
There are about 300 farmers in the cooperative Wesley works with (Fisenge), of which about 200 are actively producing milk to supply to their local Milk Collection Centre.
He says he is trying to pass on his “love and passion” for animals to the farmers he is working with, as well as the technical skills in relation to things like growing fodder and making silage.
He is happy that more farmers are now promising to grow fodder and / or expand their existing fields.
Wesley says his vision for the future is to one day put all his knowledge and skills in to practice on his own farm.
He likes the fact that the ZDTP employs national staff, like himself, because “this is our land”.
He says he hopes the farmers he is working with will be able to stand on their own feet when the ZDTP eventually winds up.