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By Noel Chatepa

From Mwankumbwa EPA in the area of Traditional Authority Mwaulambya in the northernmost district of Chitipa, comes out the story of a project that is changing lives. The Integrated Rural Development project, being implemented by the Catholic Development Commission in Malawi (CADECOM) under the Karonga Diocese with funding from Misereor, is a beacon of hope for local communities.

Romad and his wife Wakisa holding their bottles of honey.

Romad Mshani and his wife, both dedicated farmers and parents to four children, are part of the Integrated Rural Development project which promotes Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) as one of its components. This innovative approach encourages communities to restore degraded lands by nurturing existing vegetation. Instead of planting new trees, villagers protect and nurture natural mini forests, allowing them to regenerate naturally.

Romad Mshani standing next to one of his beehives.

Romad’s family became enthusiastic participants in this endeavor and as part of ANR, the Mshani family received artificial beehives from CADECOM. These beehives not only supported pollination and biodiversity but also provided a sustainable source of income. Romad and his wife, Wakisa, tended to the hives with care, watching as bees transformed nectar into liquid gold—honey.

Mshani (Right) selling honey to a customer.

The Mshani family’s journey took an exciting turn when they harvested their first batch of honey as it opened doors to economic independence and the proceeds flowed back into their household, providing funds for essential needs.

With the additional income, the Mshani family diversified their livelihoods, and they invested in small-scale goat farming and now own several goats.

Mshani poses with his goats from honey sales proceeds.

“I am very grateful to CADECOM under the Karonga Diocese for training me in ANR as I would have just been cutting down trees not knowing that through preserving the environment, I can also find a source of income” he says.

The Integrated Rural Develpment Project is being implemented with support from Misereor and it aims to improve and sustain food production among 480 households in Chitipa District. Further the project is implementing interventions to strengthen farmers joint marketing and train youths in vocation skills.