The cost of living crisis is making life harder for subsistence farmers.
David Mwenitete is a farmer in Nkhata Bay North who wanted to start selling his crops as a commercial farmer. With the help of Temwa and the Chanjati Livestock Group, David has sustainably scaled up production. Before, David was trying to buy expensive chemical fertilisers that he couldn’t afford, to help him grow more potatoes and maize. This was not a sustainable situation for him.
Most people in Nkhata Bay North live on about 50p a day. In contrast the average cost of chemical fertilisers for farmers in Malawi used to be MK 4000 (£27.22) per 50kg bag. Despite a government subsidy, the cost was so high it meant David could only use them on a very small area of land, which was not big enough to make this profitable. Frustratingly, most of the time the maize he harvested was only enough to feed him and his family.
The global cost of living crisis has caused the price of chemical fertilisers skyrocket to MK70,000 (£55.87) per 50kg bag! Using fertilisers is not realistic and farmers in Nkhata Bay North need viable alternatives. Thanks to the excellent support of the Chanjati Livestock Group and pigs provided by Temwa, the situation has changed for David.
Temwa does not encourage farmers to use chemical fertilisers. In addition to the high expense to farmers who don’t have the capital to invest, industrial fertilisers cause long term damage to soil quality and the wider environment. We have found that this leads local farmers to clear more land for farming or purchase even more fertiliser.
Organic compost and manure on the other hand, replenishes nutrients back into the soil and ensures long term soil health and is a far more sustainable strategy for farmers. Using manure from livestock animals farmers can sustainably build back healthy soil quality, with less cost and long-term benefits. When David joined Chanjati Livestock Group he found using manure increased his crop yields, bringing him satisfying gains and a better income.
David said, “Being heavily reliant on chemical fertilisers made it impossible for us to grow crops on a large scale. With support from Temwa we learnt how to make manure from our livestock. We have graduated away from heavy use of fertilisers and the soil structure has greatly improved in the field”.
By supporting farmers to use more sustainable and natural resources, Temwa is helping communities in Nkhata Bay North to reduce their reliance on damaging chemical fertilisers and mitigate climate change. And also become more resilient to the worst effects of the global cost of living crisis.
“Previously we never owned livestock but I now raise chickens and rabbits”, David continues. “I now largely depend on manure harvested from pigs that Temwa supported me with”.
Safeguarding the Future
With the cost of living crisis deepening across the world, the divisions between rich and poor are getting worse. But thankfully David and the Chanjati Group have a way of continuing to put food on the table. And their situation has improved.
As the group has access to manure, they started winter cropping (growing crops outside the main rain-fed farming season). David now grows more vegetables, improving his family’s nutrition. And he is making a better income!
David said, “My desire to become a successful commercial farmer has been achieved. The crops in the farm are healthy and I am expecting a bumper harvest, which will enable me to make a lot of money and improve the wellbeing of my household.”
David has also been involved in our Temwa Carbon Balance scheme. In the 2020-2021 tree planting season, he raised and planted out over 1,000 pine trees on his land on a steep slope. This was to prevent the stream that flows below from drying out, something that is happening increasingly due to climate change and deforestation.