Eighteen-year-old Daniel Mwanza and her two sisters recall how difficult it was for their parents to make ends meet while they were very young.
The three children from the family of Francis Mwanza of Group Village Headman (GVH) Funachina, Traditional Authority (T/A) Nthondo in Ntchisi struggled to have good food, nice clothes and decent shelter for years.
“My sisters were deprived of better education because my parents could not afford fees for private secondary schools.
“Having missed out on the list to pursue education in public secondary schools, they just remained doing nothing,” he recalls.
Daniel further admits facing nutritional challenges.
“It was as if we were not supposed to live. Imagine no school fees, no clothes, no food, such that some days would pass without eating anything.
“Looking at children from other households growing up happily, sometimes I used to think that our parents were not caring enough,” he says.
Today, Daniel looks at the past and smiles with tears running down his cheeks.
The situation has changed, the family is now a role model due to various achievements—thanks to the dairy farming and seed multiplication projects, courtesy of World Vision Malawi.
Mwanza and his wife joined Cheka Cooperatives in 2009 after undergoing a World Vision funded training in dairy farming and seed multiplication as part of modern methods of agricultural production.
After the training, the organisation provided cooling equipment and a generator, so that milk is not spoiled once farmers supply the product to the cooperative for market links.
The cooperative—which was registered in 2009—has about 1 113 members and others are on course to joining it due to its benefits. Since 2009, the number of dairy cows has increased from 30 to 215 under Cheka Cooperatives.
A warehouse was also constructed in Nthondo Area Programme (AP) with funding from the United States support office. Farmers keep their seeds and other crops in the warehouse pending market identification during each harvesting season.
“After the training in 2009, I was given one dairy cow, which has given birth to seven more—meaning that I have eight dairy cows now. I am able to supply milk to the cooperative for business and earn more money than before,” says Mwanza, adding that without a certificate one cannot do dairy farming.
His joining and engagements in dairy farming enables him to procure more bags of fertiliser every growing season, which he could not do before due to high poverty levels.
“I was a regular victim of food handouts, but this kind of farming has put my family on another positive scale,” says Mwanza.
During a tour of Nthondo AP, which included visitors from World Vision Malawi’s support teams such as South Korea, Taiwan, US, Germany, New Zealand and Canada last week, it was learnt that Mwanza is one of the outstanding members of the cooperative in terms of human development.
He has improved lives of not only his children and family, but the community at large through dairy and seed multiplication.
The family of Mwanza has since 2009 bought a one-tone-car, a maize mill, and a motorbike. He has created job opportunities by employing five people who work on dairy cows, maize mill and his car.
Knowing that selection to public secondary schools is not easy, Mwanza and his wife Emelda, decided to send their two daughters to a private secondary school using proceeds from dairy and seed multiplication ventures.
“I am now a financially blessed person. I don’t complain much about how and what to feed my family, even school fees. I have what a family needs.
“Above all, I aim higher so my children do not suffer, but rather have the much needed attention for them to be educated and live a healthier life,” says Mwanza.
Profitability of farming
Just this year, Mwanza has earned close to K1.5 million from maize sales. “I practice modern farming that is why I make such money,” he says.
His wife, Emelda, alludes that they also get K94 000 per month from the sales of milk.
“As a mother, I am now happy because we have anything that we desire to service our family. Money is no longer a problem because some money is earned through matola (local paying transport), so too the maize mill,” states Emelda, a mother of seven.
“We eat balanced meals and drink a lot of milk daily that is why I look healthier. Previously, we used to fight over food,” echoes Daniel, who is now in Standard Eight.
He says with his sisters, they work with their parents in managing dairy and seed multiplication projects once they are back from school.
Cheka Cooperatives marketing secretary Jonathan Chisinga says the area lagged behind in health, education, business and farming among others.
He says World Vision programmes have helped in uplifting the well-being of children, who used to dropout of school due to lack of fees and malnutrition challenges.
“Farmers bring their products to Cheka. In turn, we as executive members source markets for them. Once their products are sold, they get their money based on volumes they brought to the association,” he says.
T/A Nthondo admits that daily livelihoods of Mwanza and other members of Cheka Cooperatives have improved.
“We want more people to join the cooperative to deal with poverty levels in this area. We also thank World Vision because since the introduction of these programmes, communities can afford an improved life and send children to better schools,” says Nthondo.
World Vision Central Zone operations manager Rachel Kathyanga wants more markets explored besides the fact that communities should grow more crops or engage in dairy farming.
“Imagine! The Mwanza family was given one cow, but today they have eight and make money through milk sales, this is great. It is also pleasing to note that they have bought a vehicle, maize mill and motorbike.
“As World Vision and support offices, we are amused with this positive change and that is what we want to see in our operations,” she enthuses.
A delegation of various support officials, who recently visited Nthondo, also underscored the need for good transition ahead of local ownership from 2019.
John Michael, the leader of delegation said: “Our visit is meant to see how locals would work after 2018, when we close shop. We also want to find out what we can do now so that the projects are sustained after 2018.”
While the programmes in Nthondo are phasing out in 2018, the likes of Mwanza and Chisinga, think there should be more trainings on how to manage such projects.