Tiwonge Shaba is project officer for Income Generating Activities, a part of our Agriculture and Forestry Project. Here she talks to Temwa Malawi Communications Officer Sera Mtambo, about her job and why it matters.
Why do you like working at Temwa?
I like working at Temwa because it gives me a chance to engage with people with different beliefs and ways of life. It gives me a chance to help provide an opportunity to learn new ways of living that are more sustainable and healthy.
What do you think are the most impactful activities that Temwa carries out?
I believe the most impactful activity that Temwa is carrying out is the livestock pass on program. It is giving over 150 farmers access to manure which they are using to cultivate in their farm both for rain fed and winter cropping. This is increasing the amount of food people have while increasing their incomes.
How does the community feel about Temwa’s presence in Malawi?
Communities in Nkhata Bay North are very happy to have Temwa in their communities, especially because not many organisations work there. Temwa uses a holistic approach when addressing challenges in the community; we have various projects in Agriculture, Health and Education, which address various challenges that community members are facing.
How have the Income Generating Activities (IGAs) helped improve the communities in Nkhata Bay North?
The IGAs have helped improve household incomes of the people we work with. For instance, the members of groups in forest friendly businesses have done things like keep bees for honey production, whereby they sell their honey and make investments. Some members of the groups have built houses and others are educating their children with the money they make from this. Members of these groups also have access to the Village Savings and Loans Association, where they can get loans and invest in their businesses to further increase their income.
Most people in Nkhata Bay North rely on farming for food, but only a few make income from it. Why is that
This is mostly because these farmers lack potential markets for selling their products, so most people opt for businesses that are not related to farming. At Temwa, we are trying to address this gap by supporting our farmers to identify markets for their products, even long before they harvest. This will show community members in Nkhata Bay North that they can have markets for their produce and encourage them to do more farming.
How have farming practices changed in Nkhata Bay North since Temwa arrived?
In the past, people used to cultivate one crop in their fields, cultivate their ridges anyhow and were solely dependent on inorganic fertilisers. With the arrival of Temwa, people now understand the importance of mixed cropping and following sustainable agriculture practices. People are also slowly starting to adopt organic fertilisers, especially since they have access to organic manure.
What will we be able to achieve with Income Generating Activities in future?
We expect our farmers will make more profits through farming, and this will improve their household income as well as food security.Our projects are sustainable, because they are led by farmers, which means they will be able to continue with the project in future, even without Temwa’s involvement.
For more information on our Agriculture and Forestry Project, read our latest report here.
Title photo: Tiwonge Shaba with members of the Usingini beekeeping group