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'Our legacy is one to be proud of'

How many young Scots would chose to pay the school fees of their nephews if they got a few extra pounds in their pockets?

Yet that is exactly what one young Zambian farmer, Rabson Mwamulanshi, is doing: ensuring his two nephews, Johnathan and Thaulo, can complete their education.

His increased income has come from switching from conventional farming with expensive fertilisers and pesticides to organic farming. He says: "If I still used fertilisers, I couldn't pay the school fees as that farming is too expensive."

Rabson is just one of the beneficiaries of the Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre, in the Chongwe district of Lusaka province. Here the Scottish Government, via Sciaf - the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund - is supporting the inspiring work of the college to improve food security and household incomes in a country which has some of the most severe levels of rural poverty worldwide.

My visit was timed to coincide with the arrival in the country of the Queen's Baton as it winds its way through the countries and territories of the Commonwealth en route to the Games in Glasgow.

Scotland's Zambian connections go back to David Livingstone. At the official ceremony to herald the arrival of the baton, I was proud to take a turn carrying it, but also taking his turn was vice-president Guy Scott - whose father comes from Carluke. When he heard we were to visit the agricultural college, he changed his schedule to visit as well - and shared my view of the work being done there, which is changing the lives of the young people of Zambia as well as changing farming.

If there is one word the Commonwealth Games should be known for it is "legacy" - and from what I have seen, our legacy in Zambia will be helping to lift children out of poverty and in to education, something we should be proud of.

Rabson is the youngest of eight children and he lives with his parents and works some land not too far from the college. The college has championed the move to farming organically, and families like Rabson's are seeing an improvement in household income as a result. They benefit twice - they have lower costs, yet can attract a higher price for their produce.

As Rabson explains it's easy to see the benefit to family incomes if you can successfully farm organically: "Previously I used fertiliser and chemicals but organic is cheaper, and we are getting a better yield. Where a 50kg bag of fertiliser is 220 kwaca, (£24) manure costs only 10 kwaca a bag (£1.08p)."

Rabson is a great advocate for the benefits of the method and is growing a wide variety of crops - from maize and velvet beans, to avocados and oranges.

"Organic farming has changed my life as it has given me enough money for basic needs. I'd recommend organic - and the goodness of eating organic produce. The taste is better and healthier."

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