A farming-to-farming development project in Zambia has been helped by a Broadland Rotary Club.

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Farmer Robin Baines and fellow Wroxham Bure Valley rotarians raised more than £15,500 to send a tractor to an orphanage at Kitwe in Zambia’s Copper Belt.

The 55hp John Deere tractor, which was loaded into a shipping container at Ben Burgess & Co’s Aylsham branch, will enable 700 acres of land to be brought into cultivation. At present, workers at the Faith Orphanage Foundation, clear up to five to 10 ten acres of scrub by hand, costly and back-breaking work.

They want to grow fruit and vegetables and food crops including sweet corn, sorghum and maize, said Mr Baines, of Hoveton, who visited Zambia about six years ago.

The no-frills tractor, which has almost no electronic systems, will be sent to Dar-es-Salam and should arrive in between six to nine weeks - ahead of the planting season.

“We’ve been amazed by the generosity of the farming industry. The 28 donors included farmers, grain merchants, agricultural suppliers and machinery trade. Martin Fuller and his team at Ben Burgess have been behind all the way,” said Mr Baines, who also runs a contract farming operation.

Additional spares including service kits, replacement plough tips, two front tractor tyres and machinery has been loaded into the container. Clothing and materials have also been included with items from Tools with a Mission, from Ipswich.

A third of the funds were raised by Wroxham Bure Valley with a similar contribution from the Rotary Foundation. John Gillespie, former chairman of the fund-raising committee of the 2,200-member Rotary’s East Anglian district, donated another third.

And crucially, in terms of oversight of the project, Kitwe North Rotary Club supported the appeal. Mr Baines also hope to return to Zambia to follow developments with other members from East Anglia.

The orphanage, which helps to support 6,500 youngsters, has also started a “skills centre,” which provides practical instruction in skills from agriculture and horticulture to tailoring, carpentry and computers.

The tractor will be maintained by Moses Sikaonga, who is a trained mechanic and has been to agricultural college.

Mr Fuller, who has been at Aylsham for 20 years and manager for the past 15 years, said the tractor was built specifically for the export market.

He said that the service schedule was straightforward. It would need an oil change at about 500 hours and a hydraulic oil change at 1,500 hours.

The tractor should make a major difference to the rate of scrub clearance, said Mr Baines.

The Rotary Club has supported other projects including the local hospital. Two years ago, Faith, the orphanage’s founder visited Norfolk. “When she said that she had been given about 200 acres of land to crop and needed a tractor to cultivate it. Jokingly, I said: ‘What colour do you want and handed her a copy of Farmers’ Weekly?

After she returned, we thought: We must be able to help. So the tractor scheme evolved,” said Mr Baines.

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