Lucy Masewo: from subsistence farming to thriving agriculture business
We often post success stories of the people we work with to show how Temwa projects improve the lives of farmers in Nkhata Bay North. Temwa agriculture and livelihood projects, such as Farming Futures, are helping incomes to be more abundant and reliable. And crop yields to be more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
We also talk often about how hunger and food crises are often looming for the communities in remote northern Malawi. The impacts of cyclone Freddy mean that farmers are expecting the hunger season to begin six months ahead of schedule in this July, rather than January next year. This is due to the need to redistribute food to other areas of the country that were hit very hard by floods and landslides caused by the cyclone. Farmers and communities then have to work extra hard to increase food supplies so they don’t end up in danger of not just hunger, but famine.
Our case studies are therefore individual nuggets of success we feel important to share with you, as they show our work is making an impact. Which is why your continued support is so vital for Temwa to continue helping.
Case study: Lucy Masewo and family join Farming Futures
Lucy Masewo lives in Denthema with her husband and three children. She has been surviving as a subsistence farmer for five years, growing enough maize and beans to feed her family. However, her maize supply regularly did not last through the year and she was forced to take out a loan to buy food. Lucy and her husband were also often unable to afford basic necessities and her children were repeatedly sent home from school due to unpaid school fees.
In 2022, Lucy decided to contact Temwa for help commercialising her farming so she could make a steady income and feed her family consistently. She had land readily available, but with limited access to chemical fertilisers, upscaling was difficult for her to achieve alone.
Since working with Temwa, Lucy trained in sustainable agricultural practices, and she has begun diversifying her crops – growing avocados and bananas too. Sustainable agriculture practices include things like mixed cropping, natural pesticides, and organic manure to improve crop yield, all of which Lucy does. This year alone Lucy has cultivated four acres of maize using organic manure.
“I am doing mixed cropping which is allowing me to have more harvests. I have also been able to make organic manure which I’m applying in my field. This year alone I have cultivated 4 acres of maize using manure and used natural pesticides on my beans.”
Lucy is now a member of the new Penjani Beans Group, formed with the support of Temwa’s Farming Future project. In January, the group gained material support from Temwa and Lucy received enough seeds to cultivate an acre. She has since harvested 120 kgs of beans. From their sale, she expects to make around 210,000 MWK (£164) to support her family. Most Malawians live below the poverty line (around $1.90 per day) so this is a huge boost to Lucy’s household income.
Lucy says she is grateful for the support she gains with her farmer group: ““I could also not afford to pay for some basic needs for me and my children because I was getting so little profit after selling the little that I had harvested. But ever since I joined Temwa, I have earned so many sustainable agriculture practices that are helping me harvest more than before… The market linkage that we get from Temwa gives us courage to produce more in the coming growing season.”
Lucy is also now a member of a Village Savings and Loans Association. Through this she has learned to manage her money carefully, including borrowing money to invest in her new banana business. In future, she hopes to expand banana production, which has proven more resilient to unpredictable weather resulting from climate change. She would also like to do winter cropping with beans and vegetables to provide more consistent produce all year round.
“Farming is simple now, I always get technical support from Temwa staff on how to best manage my crops. I am a business lady … with diversification, I have been able to increase my household income”, says Lucy.
Temwa’s Community Driven Approach
Temwa’s holistic approach helps the communities we work with by improving food security and overall quality of life. Sustainable agriculture practices positively impact the local environment, and access to peer learning enables the wider community to adopt practices and reap the benefits.
Additionally, using more organic farming techniques helps to improve soil quality and recover forests. This is particularly important in Nkhata Bay North where 20% of forest cover has been lost in 20 years. Delivered in tandem with business focused initiatives, sustainable agriculture provide incentives to farmers, which then encourages climate resilience.
When projects are delivered in line with other programme areas, communities are not held back by wider challenges. By ensuring access to toilets, clean drinking water, health care and education, illnesses and slow progress are prevented. This encourages positive outcomes for all where thriving, inclusive and self-reliant communities have been able to transform their own futures.