Grace Edward is a farmer who belongs to Tamandani farmer club located in Sinosi Village in Traditional Authority Simphasi’s area in Mchinji district. Sinosi village is in Chiosya Extension Planning Area (EPA). Grace has been growing groundnuts since 2012, but her life got a turnaround in 2015 when she started listening to radio programmes that are facilitated by Farm Radio Trust.
“I’ve been a member of Tamandani farmer club since 2012 when the group started. The background to this farmer club is that I was invited to the agricultural office (EPA) where I was advised that we had to mobilize each other as groundnuts farmers, and we did that. We gave our club the name Tamandani because we are praising God for this opportunity of having a farmer club that was initiated by the agricultural office. But it was in 2015 when things started to change for the better after we received a radio set from Farm Radio Trust,” she said with a big smile on her face.
Farm Radio Trust works with already existent farmer groups in the communities across the country, which are identified with the help of the District Agriculture Office (DAO), specifically through the Extension Planning Areas (EPAs), which are headed by the Agriculture Extension Development Coordinators (AEDC). The AEDCs work with the communities with the help of the Agriculture Extension Development Officers (AEDOs). These AEDOs are the ones who identify the farmer groups from the sections where they oversee the agricultural activities and provide agricultural advisory services to the farmers. Farmer Radio provides radio sets to the farmer groups and provides capacity building exercises to the farmer groups, specifically on group dynamics and listening to Farm Radio facilitated radio programmes as an add on activity, thereafter the groups are known as Community ICT Hubs.
The 32-year-old Grace and her family have ripped abundant fruits from groundnut farming. She has managed to buy a motorcycle from groundnut sales and she is able to pay for school fees for her son who is in Secondary School. She is married and has three children.
“Our club has 15 members and we meet twice a month during which we discuss club related activities but we also share information which we get from a radio programme known as Tipindule ndi Mtedza komanso Soya on ZBS (Zodiak Broadcasting Station). We also receive messages on our phones advising us on various agricultural tips, specifically on groundnuts and soybean. Through these radio programmes and agricultural tips, we have been able to adopt good agricultural practices since we also get encouraged with testimonies from fellow farmers from other areas through the radio programmes,” she adds.
According to Grace, she started with MK2, 000 (about US$3) as capital which she used to buy groundnut seeds. She planted 15 lines, from which she got 15 pales of groundnuts. She then rented a large piece of land in 2013 on which she planted the CG7 variety and she managed to produce 72 pales of groundnuts which enabled her to raise MK144, 000 (about US$197). She used this money to buy iron sheets for her house in 2017.
“I got groundnut seeds from the agricultural office during the 2018/2019 agricultural season and I rented 2 acres of land. I harvested 2 ox-carts full of shelled groundnuts and I managed to realize MK350, 000 (about US$480). I used this money to buy a motorcycle and we are also able to pay for school fees for our son who is now in Secondary School. All this is because of the good agricultural practices we are getting from the radio programmes on ZBS,” she confessed.
Grace has already rented and planted 3 acres of groundnuts, from which she said she was expecting to raise over MK500, 000 (about US$685). “We are planning to use this money to buy a second-hand vehicle for the taxi business,” she said.
Farm Radio has partnered the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), under the Feed the Future Malawi Agricultural Diversification activity, which contributes to USAID’s Feed the Future goal of sustainably reducing poverty and malnutrition. Malawi FtF Ag Diversification targets eight districts of Central and Southern Malawi comprising Malawi’s Feed the Future Zones of Influence (ZOI): Mchinji, Lilongwe Rural, Dedza, Ntcheu, Balaka, Machinga, Blantyre Rural, and Mangochi. The partnership came into effect following the authorization by Palladium International, as the prime contractor of USAID in the Ag Diversification Activity under Prime Contract No 217707-Farm Radio Trust- 04. Farm Radio, therefore, has been contracted to deliver the following:
- Facilitate innovative Radio programming focusing on the 3 value chains of soybean, groundnuts, and Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) including cross-cutting issues such as nutrition, drip irrigation, bamboo, and inoculant;
- Provide e-extension and advisory services through the Farmer Call Centre: Mlimi Hotline;
- Develop and manage special ICT platforms for enhancing interactivity and reach of messages on the value chains and other cross-cutting issues;
- Monitoring & Evaluation: Track outcomes of multi-media campaigns through raising awareness of radio programs and radio stations during field visits;