In the village of Mwenitanga in northern Malawi, slopes of farmland stretching in all directions are golden—they are overspread by long stalks of yellow maize.
Twambilire inspects the soil that lies beneath the layers of papery husks on her own plot. Like all farmers in her village, Twambilire toils for many hours to prepare her land so that she can harvest a good crop.
But climate change has increased the frequency and severity of drought and erratic rain—events that make it difficult for Twambilire to grow enough food to eat and sell at the market. To support her children, the desperate mother had been begging her neighbours for money.
That’s when Twambilire decided to try conservation agriculture. With the help of PWS&D and Canadian Foodgrains Bank, she learned to farm in a way that encourages minimal soil disturbance, crop rotati
on and the use of old plant material—like the maize stalks that cover her land—as mulch.
Conservation agriculture helps make land more productive and allows farmers to better cope with drought.
Twambilire proudly shares that since mulching her plot, her soil is rich and healthy where it was once degraded.
Stretches of mulch-covered ground throughout the community indicate that other farmers have also taken up conservation agriculture. Twambilire beams sharing that as a lead farmer with the PWS&D project, she taught many of them.
“They were reluctant at first, but after the training, they mulched their entire plots and their crops have done better,” shares Twambilire.
In a country where few women hold decision-making positions, it is empowering to see clever and confident Twambilire in her role as lead farmer.
In Africa, women comprise up to 60 per cent of the agricultural labour force. In countries like Malawi, they are essential to food production and the food security of their families and communities. And yet, in many cases, women subsistence farmers don’t have a say in farming decisions. They often lack access to training and education as well as savings and credit, making it hard to invest in their farms.
For Twambilire, support from PWS&D changed this experience. Not only did she receive training to rehabilitate her weather-worn land, she also was able to get the farming supplies she needed.
PWS&D supports village savings groups for vulnerable farmers in the region. As a member of the group,
Twambilire regularly meets with farmers in her village to share and distribute loans. Twambilire has used her loans to buy farming tools and seeds, and with extra income, health care, clothing and education for her children.
Empowering rural women with training and resources translates into better food security and the improved well-being of children, households and communities. Through your support, women can continue to restore creation and grow the food that sustains their communities.
PWS&D is a member of Canadian Foodgrains Bank, a partnership of 15 churches and church agencies working together to end global hunger.