Chrissie Stackio, a small-scale farmer from Chambo, Malawi, used to cultivate three and a half acres of her land. It generally yielded less than seven bags of maize – each bag weighing around 50kg. For some, 50kg may seem like a lot, but for a single mother of six trying to feed her family every day, it wasn’t enough. And she could only afford to send two children to school.
Some regions of Malawi grapple with persistent drought, crop and livestock disease and degraded soil. The result? Families like Chrissie’s, worrying on a regular basis if they will have enough food.
Foodgrains Bank member The Salvation Army in Canada (TSA) is working with The Salvation Army in Malawi to implement the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security (SAFS) project in the Mangochi District. The three-year project is providing 450 farmers and their households (about 2,950 people) with training in conservation agriculture (CA). CA techniques can help boost soil fertility, increase food production, and build resilience into local agriculture systems by minimizing tillage and rotating crops. SAFS training also included gender equity awareness and 30 lead farmers learned how to promote CA in their communities.
As a member of the Foodgrains Bank since 1996, TSA has used their account to help fund other members’ food assistance and long-term development projects. However, the Malawi SAFS program marks the first ever project they’ve implemented as the lead member in partnership with the Foodgrains Bank. Chrissie was recruited for the SAFS project, where she was trained in CA techniques. Starting with two small plots, she was astounded when she harvested 35 bags of maize.
“God has made a way for me,” she exclaimed. “My hopes were gone but I see my children can smile again.”
She kept 15 bags for food for her family, enough for a whole year, and sold 20 bags netting MWK150,000 (C$195). She used some of the proceeds to send her other four children to school and was able to save some through the Village Saving and Loans Association.
“Our local project officers were able to gain further training experience.” explains Lt-Colonel Brenda Murray, Salvations Army’s Director of International Development. “I’m really thrilled they were able to do that and am excited for the future – this is the first project of many more to come.”
This article was originally published in the Winter 2023 edition of Breaking Bread. Download your copy here.