Technology comes to the farm for Patricia Zakeyo who manages about five hectares of land in the Mchinji district of Malawi, about a three-hour drive from Lilongwe. She’s been living in this area for ten years and has five children, two of whom help her with farm chores when they are not in school. On the farm, Patricia cultivates groundnuts, soya beans, orange sweet potato and maize. She notes that this year’s high level of rainfall has had a negative impact on her crops as well as her livestock of chickens, goats, cattle and pigs. She tells us that she first heard about Farm Radio Trust’s agricultural programming in 2015, and was keen to follow the advice of using inoculant in the soil that she heard about on the program. By listening to the weather information provided by FRT, she has been better able to anticipate the needs of her crops and can strategize her planting and harvesting more effectively. Patricia was also very interested in expanding the role of processing some of her soya bean crops into edible products. Currently, she is able to make the soya into cookies and milk, and uses these at home, selling the surplus to boost her income. Of the climate in this part of Malawi, Patricia says weather patterns have become increasingly imbalanced. One year of drought is followed by another year of excessive rains, and that there has been a big change since she first arrived.  She points out that each of these climate events has been increasingly damaging and unpredictable. On the positive side, though, Patricia is quick to highlight that the guidance she has received from FRT programming, specifically on the twinned issue of developing both resilient and sustainable crops has been especially helpful. Patricia knows the challenges of rural Malawi very well, and adds that the crops which were treated with inoculant have done much better than the others which were not inoculated. She also says that she has experimented with hybrid varieties, and has had success with this strategy which was promoted in the FRT radio broadcasts that she heard. The future plans she has for her farm include applying inoculant to the soya and groundnuts for the whole field. At the same time, she will continue using the information about the weather she receives regularly through SMS messaging. She also shares this information with other members of her community, and has suggested to them that they start expanding the processing of their soya and groundnut crops to increase their financial security. Farm Radio Trust programmibng and the access to SMS messaging have made a big difference to Patricia, and she speaks very enthusiastically about these strategies.

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