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Sustainable Agriculture Taking Shape
Written by: Madalitso Banda
In the Kasungu District of Malawi, local livelihoods depend heavily on the agricultural sector. However, outdated farming practices make it difficult for families to make ends meet and often lead to environmental degradation. CARE, through its Field and Farmer Business Schools (FFBS), is bringing a solution.
“We have welcomed you today with singing and dancing like it is harvesting season,” said Anastazia Chipangula, as she started her welcoming remarks on behalf of the 75 producer group members that had gathered at the Kantimbo demonstration plot in Santhe.
“Good things speaks for themselves. CARE brought us a message of hope, and the quality of soya and groundnuts in this demonstration plot bring us hope of good fortunes to come,” she shared, as the group members nodded.
The quality of the soya (soybeans) and groundnuts (peanuts) on the FFBS demonstration plot have not only brought financial relief to many of the producer group members, but have also help to boost confidence in the modern farming practices and sustainable agriculture teachings that the FFBS has introduced.
Magret Mobiyira, a 49-year-old group member, shared, “To be honest, I have been farming using what I learned from my parents decades ago, and I thought there was no hope in farming because each year the yield was getting lesser and lesser.”
Annes Phiri is another group member, who shared that she has learned a lot since she decided to participate in the FFBS. She explained, “At this demonstration I have learned that with proper seeds and new farming information, it is easy to make farming a business.”
The members of the producer groups are not only women. My visit at Kantimbo also showed the benefits of male participation, and it was interesting to see male farmers eager to share their story on how the FFBS will help them to overcome the effect of climate change.
“It’s not too late to learn new ways of doing farming. What I am learning now, I will make sure I pass on to my children and my grandchildren. This kind of farming is not as labor intensive as the ways we used to do in the past, and look at the outcome! It makes a person feel encouraged to be a serious farmer,” said Mtumodzi Chateka, who spoke in praise the knowledge he has gained.
For many members of the producer group, the Field and Farmer Business School offers a path to relieve the pangs of poverty. The knowledge that producer group members will gain will be shared with their families and across their communities, spreading the impact and helping to reduce food insecurity across households in the Kasungu district.
After the day’s work, I watched a producer group member perform a play demonstrating the value of the new sustainable agriculture practices. It was clear from his performance that the Field and Farmer Business School symbolizes hope of good things to come, from creating more food-secure households and boosting nutrition to overcoming the barriers that prevent girls from getting an education.