Climate smart agriculture, a tool for achieving sustainable rural livelihoods

Story written by Precious Msuku and Sain Mskambo

Masozi Mskambo from Hora EPA in Mzimba District was born in 1977, is married and has three sons and two daughters aged between 12 and 25 years old. Though she and her husband own in excess of 7 hectare, they only cultivate around 2.5 ha where they grow maize (1.5 ha), soya (0.4 ha), groundnuts (0.25) intercropped with beans and sweet potatoes. She joined the SALFP as a Lead Farmer in 2014 and received 3 goats from the pass-on programme. She bought two more goats and currently has 7 goats, 15 pigs and 9 chickens after selling some.

In 2015, she harvested 41 bags of maize from an area that used to give her no more than 15 bags previously after growing her maize planting pits, practising Conservation Agriculture, agroforestry, properly aligning her marker ridges in her sloppy field and extensively applying organic manure. She also harvested eight bags of soya. In 2016, the area experienced a drought and she only managed 11 bags of maize and 14 bags of soya. This was the year when most of her counterparts, who did not practice Climate Smart Agriculture, did not harvest anything.

She, however, harvested 95 bags of maize the following year from the same piece of land. She sold about 50 bags and used the money to pay school fees for her two children who are in secondary school, bought cement with which they added a proper floor to their house. They also built a proper toilet and bought two goats besides purchasing other household items. As a member of Chitemwano Club, she is also involved in VSL activities from which she also gets extra resources with which to move her life forward.

“My two children were a worry for me as they were getting into secondary school where they would require fees and I was having sleepless nights with regards to how I was going to raise money for their school fees,” she states, worry actually etched in her voice at the memory. “Being able to sell produce and pay school fees for my children is the happiest moment of my life.”

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