Story written by Lumbani Sichinga and Sain Mskambo
Twenty-six year old Molesi is married and has three sons and also supports two orphaned boys and her grandmother. She and her husband live in Bwengu EPA in Mzimba District and have 1.4 ha on which they grow maize, sweet potatoes, groundnuts, soya and vegetable production. Along with 24 other members (6 men and 18 women), Molesi is a member of Tovwilike Club, and together, they practise VSL and have a bakery from where they bake scones three times a week and make about K75, 000 a fortnight.
Molesi became a Follower Farmer to Witness Ngwira in 2016, and was trained in how to make manure, practise agroforestry and Conservation Agriculture. All this, she did on 0.4 ha where she planted maize. She prepared five bags of manure for this piece of land that usually yielded no more than three bags of maize in the previous years. She received three pigs (two female, one male) from the programme in the same year under pass-on. One of the pigs died the same year while the other gave birth to five piglets. Three were passed on and now she continues to grow her stock. When her club shared-out their VSL savings, she bought three goats from her K65, 000.
In 2017, and she was happily surprised with the 20 bags of maize that she harvested. She got another K65, 000 from selling sweet potatoes and bought two more goats. She expanded the area on which to grow maize to 0.6 ha and got 34 bags in 2018. She keeps this maize because she has to feed her extended family throughout the year, a thing she could not manage before until the SALFP into the picture. She also grew sweet potatoes that she sold for K75, 000 and harvested ten basins of tomatoes which she sold for K100, 000. Her pigs have increased to 11, and she also owns seven chickens.
The money that she earned from the sales of sweet potatoes and tomatoes she used for buying roofing material for her house. She also bought cement with which she put a proper floor in the pig pen and several household items. The family’s diet has improved characterized by increased ability to buy meat and meat products. The increasing number of livestock is also easing the preparation of organic manure. She does not use fertilizer in her field because she makes her own organic manure.
“Being introduced to organic manure –making was eye opening for me, and I now have something to use against the loss of fertility in our soil,” says Molesi with her husband nodding in agreement. “Now we are even selling some manure and earning some much-needed income from it!”