Loveness is the very first woman to become a lead farmer in her village in Malawi.
She supervises 29 other farmers, including 18 women. By sharing her knowledge of agronomics with them, she ensures they all get the most out of their potato crops.
Before we met her, Loveness relied on local potato varieties. These potatoes took six months to mature and fetched low prices at market. She couldn’t recover her costs and was unable to pay for her children’s everyday needs.
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. Over 50% of the population lives below the poverty line. Most Malawians live in rural areas and rely on their land to earn a living. But with climate change creating erratic weather patterns, farmers have to battle drought, flood and pests – a major threat to their livelihood.
We targeted female farmers in Loveness’s village for agronomic training through the Diversify Project. This project empowers women farmers to take on leadership roles and influence household decision-making.
Working with our local partner, United Purpose, we trained farmers in agronomics, leadership, and business skills. We also provided new sweet potato varieties that are more nutritious and marketable than local varieties.
Loveness planted four new varieties of sweet potato. These new vines took just three months to harvest, and more than doubled her production.
“There is high demand for sweet potato at local markets,” said Loveness. “Thanks to the Diversify Project, I have learned to manage sweet potato production, set goals, and influence household decisions.”
Loveness made joint decisions with her husband. Together, they decided on how to allocate land and share the labour. However, Loveness was the one to keep the books, as this was a key aspect of her studies with the Diversify Project.
Loveness used the money she earned from her first crop to buy maize for the family’s meals. She also paid her eldest daughter’s school fees, and purchased building materials for a potato storage facility.
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Sustainable Development Goals
This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).