Freed From the “Prison” of Poverty
If Jailosi’s extreme poverty had been a kind of prison from which he couldn’t escape, well, his successful farming and marketing have made him a free man.
Before the program came to his village, Jailosi says his acute poverty had become dire for him and his family. His farming results only allowed them to survive, not thrive. Their home was barely a shelter, and even the piecework he engaged in for cash did not materially change their reality. More than the poverty, however, it was shame that caused him to join the program. And the hope he felt on seeing how other subsistence farmers were actively transforming their lives. Could he do that, too?
Fast forward to Jailosi’s present. Using Conservation Agriculture techniques like mulching, crop rotation and applications of manure and organic fertilizer, he’s growing enough to feed his family and then some.
“I grow pigeon peas, soybeans, sweet potatoes and vegetables. Apart from these, I’ve got lots of goats and chickens. I’ve also managed to build a modern house,” he explains.
Rather than making a pittance from selling to middlemen, he and his farmer group take their produce directly to market. “I’ve bought two motorcycles to help transport it,” says Jailosi. They are now connected to agro-processors and seed companies and, working as a group, identify and grow crops that fetch higher prices. “Farming is a business,” he says.
His astonishing success and enthusiasm have made him the talk of his community, a lead farmer whom farmers far and wide seek out for advice and inspiration.
Jailosi says, “It is the hope of other lead farmers like me to transform farming in this area. For myself, my next goal is to buy a vehicle to make it even easier to get to market with everything I grow on my farm.”
Malawi Blantyre Program
Led by Catholic Relief Services and Local Partners District Agriculture Extension Coordinating Committee (DAECC) and Farmer Services Unit (FSU)