By Tilekeni Kaunda
Vulnerable households in rural areas, who mainly depend on agriculture, face many challenges including declining soil fertility, erratic rains and limited access to extension services. With limited access to credit and farm inputs, these vulnerable households struggle to support their families.
The involvement of Lusubilo community based programs, in the promotion of sustainable agriculture in Karonga and Chitipa districts, has had positive impact on its beneficiaries on multiple dimensions. For example, from economic perspective, improvements in technical efficiency has ensured the viability of farming as an economic activity.
In Kasikizi, a remote area of Karonga, Edna Chihana, who was once a Sustainable Options Recommended for Testing (SORT) beneficiary tells her story on how the project helped her household to achieve food and income security through farm inputs and better extension services.
Edna, who hails from Wiscot Village under Group Village Headman Mwenenguwe in Karonga District, was selected to benefit from the SORT project in 2014 due to her vulnerability status. Now 42, and a mother of five, Chihana admits that it was difficult for her to take care of her children as a single mother after being divorced by her husband and had no any future hope.
Supported by Lusubilo Community Based Programs with farm inputs such as fertilizer, improved maize and pigeon peas seed and extension services to grow maize and other crops on a land she farms for her household, Edna says her yields have been good and the income she earns has allowed her to do things for her children.
Edna said that she received a 50kg bag of top dressing fertilizer, 50kg bag of basal dressing fertilizer, 10kg packet of maize seed and 5kg packet of pigeon peas. With the these farm inputs and better extension services from Lusubilo staff, her maize crop yield increased from 200kg per acre to 3500kg per acre.
She continued with pigeon pea production which, according to her, is her main source of income besides making her farm fertile. The profit she makes from selling pigeon peas has helped her to acquire livestock and other assets which significantly reduced her vulnerability.
Lusubilo introduced SILC in Kasikizi to allow people save their money and also have access to credit/ loans. According to Edna, SILC has helped a lot of people in the including herself. She said people in her community are now able to start small businesses because they have easy access to loans. Through the businesses, people have been able to acquire assets which have enhanced their resilience to natural shocks.
“I am also a member of village savings and loans group and have borrowed money to generate extra income through small scale businesses. I buy rice that I sell at a higher price in the village. Today, I have hens and other poultry”.
“I thank people at Lusubilo whose mentorship and support has significantly contributed to my well-being.”