22 January 2021
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CARD promotes food security in Mchinji

Written by  Wishes Mumba
Kambanizithe stnading in front of the fish pond Kambanizithe stnading in front of the fish pond

Mchinji, September 10,2020. A Vitumbiko ndi pwepwete, pwetete (Mr Vitumbiko is a rich person, indeed He is worthy of our applause) sang a sizable group of people that welcomed our team in the Village of Makuluni, Traditional Authority (TA) Kapondo in Mchinji.

An observer from a distance could have thought Mr Vitumbiko Jere being praised in the song is a politician or an incarnation of a certain religion deity.

Well, He is none of the foregoing but a Project Officer of Churches Action in Relief and development (CARD), a local Non-governmental Organisation (NGO) that serves the most vulnerable communities in the country.

The Organisation provides relief and emergency services, implementing development programmes in the areas of Agriculture and food security, environmental management, and disaster risk management.

In TA Kapondo, they are carrying out environmental management activities with the technical support by CARD in partnership with two farmers clubs operating in the wetlands of the area namely, Chipapasa Village Agriculture Club (VAC) and Nthumbule Farmers Club.

Our field visit first stop was at a beautiful green-rich demonstration garden of CARD’s lead farmer, Bellium Banda, who is under Chipapasa VAC.

Banda mainly grows a variety of beans and one could see bananas, sugarcane, mustard and lemon grass being grown around the rectangular garden.

A happy farmer he is, as seen by the way he thanked CARD for imparting valuable knowledge of cost-effective farming, Banda explained to us how his everyday life as a farmer has changed.

“Through the Agro-ecology for community resilience to climate Change project by CARD, I have personally benefited a lot from lessons on organic farming whereby my colleagues and I have been taught on how to grow crops using locally made manure."

“I was taught how to prepare and use traditional antidotes that deal with pests and diseases in our gardens. Ever since I started engaging with CARD the just ended year, I have been able to grow my beans using both compost and livestock manure I myself made with the supervision of CARD officers and the government extension workers working in this area,” Banda said

He added that “As of the pests, I dealt with them by spraying a mixture of powdered chilli, onions and water into the garden. This new knowledge has made my life easier as I do not have to spend any amount of money in buying factory made fertilizer and pesticides.”

It was very impressive to note that Banda’s demonstration garden had a ripple effect as one Elias Seveni, who owns a garden close to Banda’s had adopted these best practices.

Another member of Chipapasa VAC, Zione Chichitike was very thankful for the Agro-ecology for community resilience to climate Change project by CARD as it has restored the confidence that was lost in local seeds.

“We have learnt how local seeds are designed by nature to work well in our landscape and climate thereby making them more superior to Hybrid and Genetically Modified Seeds.  Apart from that we have been taught on a cost effective way of preserving our local seeds for the next growing season by using the roots of indigenous trees such as Katope and Mtambe,” she explained.

Our field visit took us to Makuluni village where CARD has introduced fish farming to the village’s wetland through the Nthumbule Farmers Club.

According to Jonathan Mateketa, the field officer for the Agro-ecology for community resilience to climate Change at CARD, the underutilized wetlands of the village are not the same ever since CARD started working with the farmers club in 2018.

“When members of Nthumbule farmers club had been convinced of the aquaculture potential of their village’s wetlands, we at CARD provided them with the expertise on how to build, take care of fish ponds, and fish. After they had successfully built the ponds, we provided them with Makumba (Oreochromis Shiranus) fish as a starter pack.

From 2018 to date, we have seen this area having no fish pond to having 48 fish ponds of which six of them belong to some individual members of the club” he said.

Chairperson of Nthumbule farmers club and the owner of two fish ponds, Stanley Kambanizithe said this initiative by CARD has left an indelible mark in the lives of the 31-members of the club.

“As a group and personally, our lives have changed greatly as the fish ponds have been supplying us with money after selling the fish, and have provided us with food for our families.

In this we are very grateful for what CARD has done for us. If things remain equal, we envision our club to be among the best success stories in the country in matters regarding fish farming,” he pointed out

Mchinji District Agricultural Extension Coordination Committee (DAECC) Chairperson, Wezi Mtonga commended the work that is being done by CARD and encouraged the two farmer-clubs’ to work harder and act as reliable role models in their villages.

“I applaud the work that CARD is doing particularly in the area of TA Kapondo. With initiatives like these, I believe you will no longer be food insecure and cease to be counted among the districts that possess a large amount of people with malnutrition in the country. For farmers of the two clubs, I challenge you to do more on your own at your individual farms back home in order for you to reap more benefits from the knowledge that you have attained at your respective clubs,” he said.

The most exciting part in the Avitumbiko ndi pwepwete song that was sang by the Nthumbule farmers club welcoming team, was when they added Nafenso ndi pwepwete (We are also equally rich)in one of the verses.

Indeed they are equally rich as the knowledge that had been imparted to them by Vitumbiko Jere of CARD had started to produce fruits that came in the form of money and food to them.


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