Story written by Daniel Nyirenda
Jane Hawile was born in 1964. She comes from GVH Zenga, Hanock Mpata village, Zombwe Extension Planning Area in Mzimba District. She’s married to Kennedy Mkandawire with 6 children (3 m, 3 f). She was educated up to Std 8.
Janet was selected as a Lead farmer through a participatory and inclusive identification and selection process in 2015 by her community through the Sustainable Agriculture Lead Farmer Program (SALFP) with financial support from the Development Fund of Norway (DF). She met all the criteria for one to be a Lead Farmer. After her selection, she, together with other Lead Farmers underwent a 5-day training on Sustainable Agriculture based on the Lead Farmer Extension and Training Guide developed by DF in 2016. She was trained in the following modules: soil and water conservation, manure making and application, conservation agriculture, agroforestry, crop rotation and intercropping, pest and disease management and livestock management. Janet is mainly practicing Pit planting, Conservation Agriculture (CA), Intercropping, crop rotation and sweet potato farming on 2 hectares of land. She has 30 follower farmers who all practice Sustainable Agriculture technologies.
‘Before the project, I harvested only 8-9 bags of maize (50kg each) per acre but now, am able to harvest more than 30 bags of maize on the same piece of land due to manure making and application, pit planting, CA technologies and practicing good agronomic practices’. Said Jane.
Being literate, ability to lead, owning a piece of land, willingness to volunteer and adopt new technologies and ability to train others.Besides, she has also benefited economically with an increase in income through sale of agricultural produce.
‘I realized MK30, 000 from sale of vegetables and MK60, 000 from sale of maize. Now, I am able to pay school fees for my children, one of whom has just finished tertiary education (Diploma studies) at Ekwendeni Nursing School. I have also bought a mattress worth MK 26,000 from sale of soya beans, beans and maize. I have also managed to construct a three bedroom decent house’. Narrated Jane.
Soil fertility has improved due to manure application and soil and water conservation. Janet’s family is now food secure throughout the year unlike before the project, when the food stock got depleted before the next harvest. The other notable achievement is upscaling of pit planting and CA technologies due to availability of manure from livestock.
Janet learnt that pit construction especially in first year is laborious. She recommends that pit construction should be done in groups and that pits should be constructed early i.e. soon after harvesting when the soil is not very dry.