HIDDEN TREASURE IN FARMING

By George Mbale, Self Help Africa

Andrew Kabaghe lives in Mwakwenda Village in GVH Maliko TA Mwabulambia in Chitipa. He is 41 years old and has 4 children (2 girls and 2 boys) all in primary school. Chitipa is one of the 10 districts in which the KULIMA BETTER project is implementing its activities.

Kabaghe is a member of Fwasa Farmer Field School under the KULIMA BETTER Project implemented by Self Help Africa with financial support from European Union and other partners which include Malawi Government, GIZ and FAO.

Kabaghe is a community-based facilitator who has 2 groups; one formed in 2018 and another formed in 2020.In 2019, Andrew was selected to participate a vine multiplication training organised by one of the partners in KULIMA program, International Potato Center (CIP). The aim of the training was to equip farmers on how to rapidly multiply orange fleshed sweet potato vines which are fortified with vitamin A. After the training, Andrew was provided with vines for multiplication. He multiplied the vines on one acre. Later in 2020, GIZ approached him if he could supply OFSP vines. Due to knowledge gained and capacity, he supplied vines worth MK300,000 to GIZ.

“Using the revenue, I bought a cow, plasma screen television set and decoder”.

Apart from GIZ, he also has sold vines to farmers in Mwakwenda for over MK450,000 and tubers worth MK150,000.

“Of course, I have been heavily impacted by Covid 19 pandemic this year. Due to Covid, demand has greatly reduced this year. This is because institutions that purchase vines halted operations due to the pandemic.”

Kabaghe and his group were also  conducting Fall Army Worm management studies. They have identified a local tuber as the best solution to control of Fall Army Worm. The tuber is readily available in the area and is very cheap and easy to process into a concoction.

“Synthetic chemicals are expensive and are also not easily found. Using local knowledge, we are pretty sure that we will manage the pest and ensure that our households are food secure,” Andrew concluded.

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FARMER FIELD SCHOOLS EMPOWERED WITH SOLAR POWERED WATER PUMPS

Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) procured and distributed four solar powered water pumps. Two pumps were given to Pasavute FFS (Mphonde EPA) and Laula FFS (Linga EPA) in Nkhotakota.  One pump was given to Mkokota FFs from Chinguluwe EPA and one pump was given to the following FFSs under Chipoka EPA: Mthawira FFS, Tadala FFS, Kanalo FFS, Tayankha FFS and Enje FFS. The pumps will cover over 8 hectares benefitting 224 (93M, 131F) FFS beneficiaries.

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KULIMA BETTER REVAMPS KALWEYA IRRIGATION SCHEME

By Pauline Mbukwa, Self Help Africa

Farmers from Thungunda village, in Traditional Authority Kafuzila used to face hunger due to low production because most of the land is hilly. Little did they know that they had the currency in the form of the river nearby. In 2013 when the Agriculture Extension Development Officer for Dwambazi South section, Kenneth Kusauka saw that there was land that was lying idle; he mobilised the farmers to clear the land and start doing irrigation.

“Some people thought that I was crazy, and others were resistant because they never knew the potential of the land. But the good thing is that I had the support of the Village headman who allocated the land, that is how Kalweya irrigation scheme was born.” Kenneth Kusauka explained.

Kalweya Irrigation Scheme, 5 hectares, is 4 Kilometres from Kasitu Trading, situated in Kasitu EPA in Nkhotakota district. The scheme has a membership of 38 (20 male and 18 women)

“The Ministry of Agriculture through the Irrigation Rural Livelihood Agriculture Development (IRLAD) project supported the scheme by building weir in 2013 but this was destroyed due to heavy rains later in 2018. Since then we were using tree barks as weirs. We had to make an earth canal and improve a temporary intake using stones and sand packed in sacks”, lamented Chairperson of the scheme, Micton Kamanga

In 2019, KULIMA BETTER Project with funding from EU through Evangelical Association of Malawi revamped the scheme through construction of canal and weir and installation of overhead pipes worth over MK2 million kwacha.

“Apart from revamping the scheme, the project established Kalweya FFS and supported the farmers with inputs namely; 5kgs of maize seed, fertiliser, 50kgs of Irish potato, pesticides, tomato (Tengeru 97), for study and commercial” said the Treasurer of the scheme, Robert Tembo.

Initially the scheme used to produce 12.5 tonnes on the 5 hectares, this year the farmers expect to harvest 16 to 20 tonnes of maize.

The scheme is providing fresh vegetables daily to Kasitu trading, the farmers sell vegetables and from the proceeds they buy cooking oil, meat, soap, and clothes.

“We have improved our diets as well because we are growing food on our own, we are able to buy other foods in order to have a diversified diet of the six food groups.

“The group is very committed and hardworking and there is unity among them. The members share the same vision to transform their lives. In 2 years’, time I see all the members building an iron roofed house, I see them having a motorcycle. The scheme has the potential to uplift the farmers lives,” concludes Kusauka.

Kalweya Irrigation Scheme  maize Commercial Plot

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