Loading images...

Achieving food self-sufficiency amidst the challenge of climate change

February 11th, 2014 by Posted in Climate change, Countries, English, Malawi

In Malawi like elsewhere, climate change is hitting hard and is happening fast. The changing weather has negatively affected people’s livelihoods as many families hardly harvest enough to sustain their families. To cap it all, climate change has worsened people’s vulnerability.
Enifa Alick and Everton Golden, a couple from Khumbachili village in Traditional Authority Kunthembwe in Blantyre Rural district is among many families in the country who can testify how climate change affects smallholder farmers.

Despite learning about irrigation farming two decades ago, the couple which has four children and three other dependants could not challenge ruthless effects of the changing weather due to lack of irrigation farming expertise.

“We started feeling the pinch of climate change in the 1990’s and this forced us to venture into irrigation farming to boost our dwindling yields”, Golden recalls. “However, lack of expertise negatively impacted the venture because we were unable to harvest enough food for the family”.

During this time, the couple practiced irrigation farming on a small scale as they were using watering cans as opposed to using a treadle pump. This was not only labour intensive but it impacted on their yields as well. From their 0.1 hectares garden, Enifa and Everton could harvest less than 250 kilograms of maize which could last them for five months only (April to August). Besides, the couple did not have the capacity to grow other crops except maize.

The 40 year old Everton says things changed in the year 2012 when Blantyre Synod Health and Development Commission (BSHDC), Oxfam in Malawi partner, came to his village and equipped them with irrigation skills.

“With the new skills, my family is now appreciating what irrigation farming can do – it has graduated us from chronic hunger”, he says.
During the 2012/2013 cropping season, Everton and Enifa benefitted from the Projects Direct initiative which aims to build people’s resilience and sustainable livelihoods. Apart from training them on irrigation farming as an adaptive measure to climate change, BSHDC also gave the family a treadle pump, fertilizer and seeds.

Blantyre Rural is among the districts in the country that experiences frequent and prolonged dry spells and overreliance on rain-fed farming leads to low yields or none at all.
It is in light of this that Everton thinks Oxfam’s intervention through BSHDC is a sustainable one.

He says: “Blantyre Synod did not only provide us with inputs but also built our capacity through series of training on crop and vegetable production.
“In addition, the support we get from the Synod has energized us to work tirelessly as we are able to reap the fruits of our hard work.’’

Enifa has this to say in appreciating what Oxfam in Malawi has done to her family through the Project Directs’ initiative.

“The treadle pump has enabled us to cultivate 0.4 hectares unlike in the past when we could only manage 0.1 hectare,” she says.”This has enabled us to grow different types of crops such as maize, tomatoes and vegetables within a growing season – a thing we could hardly do when we were using watering cans on a 0.1 hectares of land”.

With the treadle pump, farm inputs and technical support from BSHDC, the family has managed to harvest 950 kilograms of maize in 2012/13 growing season and they say this will last them up to the next harvest (April 2014).

Besides, the couple grew tomatoes and other vegetables which earned them MK62 000. 00 ($148). With the proceeds they got from selling their crops, the couple joined village savings and loan associations to save their income. In December 2013, Everton graduated with MK45 000.00 ($104) from his VSL after saving MK27 000.00 ($64) while Enifa will graduate end of January 2014. The couple is planning to build a better house as soon as they make enough savings.

Everton and Enifa are among 8000 households from Blantyre Rural and Balaka districts that have benefitted from the three year Projects Directs’ Feeding Families project.

Post a Comment