Conservation Farming, a source of a healthy family in T/A Kunthembwe area
Chronic poverty, low agricultural productivity, low food intake due to lack of economic opportunities either to produce adequate nutritious food or to exchange labour for income to purchase nutritious food, are some of the critical factors which create a food and nutrition insecure situation in Malawi.
- The Shire Ricer Basin covers over 3.1 million ha and directly or indirectly influences the livelihoods of over 5.5 million people in the southern region of Malawi.
- Total farm families for Blantyre district is 189,458 with an average land holding size of 0.4ha.
- The area under intervention has 161 lead farmers and 52% of them are women.
Divala Nyadaufe (64) of Goma village, Traditional Authority Kunthembwe in Blanyre, is one of the farmers whose household faced extreme poverty which resulted in his children becoming malnourished due to lack of food. Thanks to the Sustainable Land Management project, which has turned his poverty to wealth, Nyadaufe explains how his life was before he started observing conservation farming.
“The biggest challenge as a loving husband to my wife and father to our five children was to not be able to provide for their needs. This went on for many years until one day when I heard about conservation farming from an Agricultural Extension Worker who visited our area”, Nyadaufe said.
Conservation farming is one of the components under Sustainable Land Management.
The Government of Malawi, with funding from the UNDP and Global Environmental Facility (GEF) launched a Private Public Sector Partnership project on Sustainable Land Management in the Shire River Basin in 2010. The basin covers over 3.1 million hectares and directly or indirectly influences the livelihoods of over 5.5 million people in the southern region of Malawi.
Sustainable Land Management focuses on sustainable land and water utilization. Main focus areas are conservation farming, afforestation, protection of fragile land and catchment areas, and rehabilitation of degraded agricultural land.
“I depend on farming to feed and clothe my family, however, we don’t produce enough food to last us throughout the year and often we would go to bed without eating any food and this used to pain me a lot” explained Nyadaufe.
Even though Nyadaufe had about a hectare of land, they were unable to yield sufficient food due to poor farm management. This saw Nyadaufe and his family members engaging in piece work in other people’s gardens in order to earn money to buy basic needs such as salt and maize flour while their garden remained unattended to.
With the help of the project, Nyadaufe developed skills in conservation farming and has managed to improve his maize production.
“I was told to plant one seed per station as opposed to three seeds as I was doing before. I am now able to harvest enough maize for the entire year as well as sell some so that I can buy essential household items and support three of my children who are in school” said Nyadaufe. “I also have learnt how to make compost manure using the maize stocks” he added.
Nyadaufe now owns livestock which he says was made possible from the sale of his maize.
“I now have cattle, pigs, goats and chicken which I have managed to buy through selling our excess maize. This has helped my family a lot as we are able to eat a well-balanced diet now. I can also slaughter some of my livestock and share it with friends in exchange for labour at my farm. This gives me enough time to rest and concentrate on other issues unlike before when I was all occupied with farming and yet did not have sufficient food or money” concluded Nyadaufe.
This is just one of the many farmers whose lives have improved due to the intervention. The program is targeting farmers in Blantyre in three Traditional Authorities; TA Kunthembwe in Kunthembwe EPA and in TA Chigaru and TA Lundu in Lirangwe EPA. 13,092 hectares of land in the three T/As has been used for Sustainable Land Management to date.
The total farm families for the district is 189,458 with an average land holding size of 0.4ha. The area under intervention has 161 lead farmers and 52% of them are women.