"Potatoes are like gold for me"

Kenneth lives with his wife and children in Chiradzulu, Malawi, where he is one of over 3,000 farmers improving their food security and income through the Diversify Project.

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. Over 50% of people live in poverty, while 30% of children under the age of five are stunted.

The Diversify Project teaches farmers how to grow high-quality sweet potatoes. These potatoes are nutritious, high-yielding and fetch good prices at market. They are also more resilient to pests, drought and disease than other potato varieties – key challenges for the 80% of Malawians who rely on agriculture for a living.

Joining the project

Before he joined the Diversify Project, Kenneth was already growing a local variety of sweet potato on his 0.45ha plot. However, each crop took six months to mature and had a low yield.

After hearing about Diversify through community meetings, Kenneth consulted with his wife, Jean, and their kids. Together, they decided to join the project. Kenneth began to attend training sessions – not just in agriculture, but also in production trends and marketing.

Last year, Kenneth trialled three new varieties of sweet potato. He harvested 180 bundles of potato vines and another 17 bags of roots, earning $380 at market.

“I used the money to purchase six bags of cement to plaster my house,” said Kenneth. “I also bought six plastic chairs to be used for visitors to my house and a television. The remaining money was used to buy five bags of maize for household food.”

To love one another

As part of the Diversity Project, Kenneth also joined a village savings and loans (VSL) group. His group is called ‘Tikondane’, which means ‘to love one another’. The group pools their savings and supports its members with micro-loans.

The VSL group encouraged Kenneth not to take out loans for goods as they quickly lose their value, but instead to take out a loan to invest in a small business.

Kenneth shared this advice with his wife, who is now running her own micro-enterprise selling ‘mandasi’ (fritters) and using the profits to contribute to the group’s savings.

Kenneth’s vision

Kenenth’s goal this season is to earn enough to pay his son’s school fees and buy a motorcycle.

“Sweet potato is like gold to me because there is a lot I have benefited from, including food and nutrition security, and income that has helped me acquire assets,” said Kenneth.

His advice to others?

“Have a vision and fulfill it!”

Donate now to help more farmers like Kenneth become more food- and income-secure.

 

Sustainable Development Goals

1. No Poverty      8. Decent Work and Economic Growth

  10. Reduced Inequalities    17. Partnerships for the Goals

 

This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

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