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Improving rural livelihood through farming in Dowa, Malawi

“I am Maria Batumeo from Talandila Club in Dowa district. I have lived in this village since I got married to my husband Mr Batueo.

During the first year of our marriage we were living a normal life as everyone else in the village as a new family. He was working at the nearby clinic as a cleaner which was enough for us in those days. When our family grew in number, we realized that the things that we use to have in the first years were not enough to cater for all the needs in our family.

One day, we were called at the chiefs’ house for a meeting, and luckily I attended the meeting and it was very fruitful meeting. At the meeting we were told that DAPP Malawi was inviting female farmers to join a Farmers’ Clubs program.

I received this news with joy, expecting that they will give us money. It came then to my surprise that instead of giving me the cash, DAPP Malawi was organizing us into clubs working out plans for our capacity building actions, creating community structures which some of us were going to take leadership roles. I was trained in low cost technology farming. I got training in how to increase the crop yield, how to reduce crop loss after harvest and how to increase my income.

I learnt how to irrigate crops and not just depend on the rain fed crops. In the demonstration garden where we had all our trainings a rope-and-washer pump was installed. It is a very simple pump which we can maintain ourselves.

I had always thought that it require a lot of modern machines and lots of expensive tools and seeds for us to improve our income from agriculture. I also looked at agriculture only as a way for feeding my family.

Through all the simple and easy techniques that women farmers in Talandila Club have acquired we are now applying them in our farming productions and have been noticing major changes in results. Things have changed and agriculture is no longer just a matter of feeding ourselves. It has become our business. I have also learned how to get better prices for my products.

When I joined DAPP Malawi Farmers’ Clubs I did not realise the importance of being in a club. Afterwards I have realized that it has helped me to become a collective force of the core-group sharing ideas and getting inspiration from other farmers as we work together and support each other.”