Mwelwa Albert (real name) is a 42-year-old man married with 3 children, from Chipanta village of chief Mabumba’s chiefdom; he is among the 112 participating households at Mabumba centre, from the 325 participants in Mabumba Parish. Mr Mwelwa is a participant in the Zambia Food Security Program which aims at reducing poverty and hunger (SDG 1 and 2) being implemented by Caritas Mansa in partnership with Caritas Zambia with funding from Caritas Norway and the back donor NORAD.
At Mabumba centre Mr Mwelwa and other participating households consisting of men, women, youths, elderly, and people with disabilities were trained in sustainable agriculture, VSLA and many more activities. Mr. Mwelwa shared that, ‘’during the sustainable organic agriculture training I learnt a lot of things and good agricultural practices that retain fertility back into the soil, among the things I learnt during the training were intercropping, crop rotation, green manure crops, pot holing, cover crops mixed planting, manure, compost making and many others’’ ; after the training, Mr Mwelwa took it upon himself by adopting some practices that he felt comfortable with at that time, he made a 5 by 5 compost hip just behind his house, by following all the recommended steps, Mr Mwelwa was able to make the compost which made him to start preparing a small and manageable garden at his back yard by way of making pot holes (sustainable agriculture) where he later planted tomatoes. ‘’I managed to grow my tomatoes using what I had just around me without spending much, I saw my tomatoes grow with a prolonged production life were I had to harvest 5 times from the plants (increased productivity) unlike what I used to harvest when I use chemical fertilisers, the difference I observed between the two fertilisers was that chemical fertilisers reduces the life span of a plant while compost manure prolongs it because there are a lot of plant nutrients in compost manure which increases vegetation growth’’.
From the small portion of land were Mr Mwelwa had planted tomatoes he managed to harvest 5 boxes of tomatoes which he even managed to sale at K75 each box and he was able to make K375 which he later used to buy 3 pockets of cement at K100 each for the construction of his house; and the remaining amount of money was used on household necessities.
On 24 July 2019 Mr Mwelwa was again privileged to be trained in village saving and lending association among others were he learnt on saving and its importance, Mr Mwelwa in all his entire life did not believe in community saving activities and he never knew the benefits of it because of the community stories that he used to hear about people who borrowed money from the group and couldn’t pay back. These people were treated badly and the group finances were been affected, that in itself instilled fear in him and hence avoided it at all costs. ‘’During the training in VSLA, I learnt something that helped me realise that I can actually safeguard my money, make it grow and use it for better things once the group shares out I can use it on important things that may require huge amounts of money. I was given an opportunity to be part of a saving group in my village were we started saving from as low as k5 to k25, saving meetings challenged me to start a small business with my wife, were we started selling our own grown vegetables and tomatoes at the market, the business was very helpful to us to manage saving every week, we were able to borrow from the group when we had the need as a family and the interest rate for the loans was at 10% in our first cycle which made it easier for us to borrow and repay loans on time. The business ideas I got from the entrepreneurship training which was conducted by Caritas Mansa, helped my wife and I to make more profits from the garden because we spent less on the inputs needed hence we were able to make more profit at the end of the day’’.
This year Mr Mwelwa has started building an iron roofed house which is at wall plate level right now, the combination of all the economic activities Mr. Mwelwa is involved in through the Zambia Food Security Program has made it possible for him and his family to build a house.
‘’Just this year on 25th of July we were able to conduct a sharing out meeting in our group with the help of the Field Facilitator were I managed to save K700 and managed to get a total amount of K1200 after the period of 10 months, from what I had saved, I got an interest of K500 and everything I got from the VSLA share out was put in the construction activities of my house, were we used the all mount to pay the bricklayers that are helping us with the construction of the house’’.
The Zambia Food Security Program has come with a total package for Mr Mwelwa and his family, and it’s transforming their lives slowly but sure, the programme has helped his family to be involved in different profitable economic activities that have helped them to put their resources together and make them work for them at a profit.
‘’Am really grateful for the support given to me through the Zambia Food Security Programme that Caritas Mansa is currently implementing in Mabumba Parish and all its supporting partners, before I joined the programme, I didn’t take my farming activities as a business due to luck of entrepreneurship skills; I never knew how to incorporate different economic activities such as gardening, crop production, fish farming and business to achieve goals in life, I didn’t see the possibility of succeeding in one way or the other as a farmer, the only thing I knew was just putting food on the table for my family and little did know that I can actually build a house if I only manage to put my resources together and using them effectively. Right now my life is changing for the better and am really proud of myself, come next year we will be moving to my iron roofed house with my family after the roof is done and together with my wife we have planned to use the same money that will be shared out early next year from our saving group to roof the house. Thank you so much Caritas Mansa for everything.’’
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