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AICC initiatives inspiring the youths

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By Macneil Kalowekamo

For many people in Mzimba, the idea of going to South Africa in search of a better life is more appealing than any thought.The people who go to the rainbow nation from this district claim to find life in the village very difficult. The majority of these are men who often leave their families behind to chase a dream in this foreign nation.

While many youths in Mzimba think of following their friends and relatives to South Africa, one young man by the name of Enoch Chirwa thinks otherwise. “I see that there is potential of doing greater things here in my village than going to South Africa,” says the 22-year-old young man from Mama Godi Shumba Village in Traditional Authority Mbelwa in the district.

For Enoch, this potential is in taking farming as a business.It is often very rare to see the youths taking farming the way Enoch is doing. Many of them engage in agricultural practices as way of just giving a helping hand to their families. Very few think of it as a means to their own personal economic empowerment.
And Enoch is one of those few.

The young man says his mind is focused on farming than going to South Africa because he is a witness to the experience that not all is well and fine with those people who go to South Africa. His father, who left for South Africa in 2007, is the case in point.

“I was so young then like 12 years old. We thought life would improve with him being there. But it got worse,” he says.

He dropped out of school in Standard seven because his mother could manage to take care of all the seven children in the family.“We lived in dire poverty. I remember I few clothes that were worn out and my mother could not afford to buy us new ones,” says Enoch. All this for the reason that his father has not sent any help for the 10 years he has been in South Africa.

But now the family is slowly getting out of the poverty trap.  All this thanks to Enoch and his mother Chrissy Chipeta who are now engaged in farming as business.Together with his mother, young Enoch grows Irish Potato and Soybean on one acre piece of land. Last farming season, the crops fetched them K160, 000. This was an increase from the previous when they realised K110, 000.

For the time Enoch has engaged in farming with his mother, the two have managed to build a 3-bedroomed modern house with corrugated iron sheets. The house stands in contrast to the old and unfinished house next to it which his father started building before going to South Africa. The sorry state of his father house is a clear indication that all is not well in South Africa.

“He once came to see us but I was not impressed. There was no sign showing that he is doing fine because he came back with nothing to show us,” Enoch says. It was this experience that encouraged this young man to stick around his home village than going to South Africa. Enoch is happy to embrace farming as a business and he thanks his mother for inspiring him.

“She is a role model to me because now she is doing fine with farming. Life is better for her and me now,” he says.
Enoch’s mother is a member of Chipulikano Farmers Club in Manyamula in Mzimba. The club is engaged in Sustainable Agriculture Lead Farmer Program.
Under this program, a lead farmer shares a variety of skills and knowledge about practices in the agriculture value chain.  Some of the practices include how to produce high value crop and entrepreneurial skills in marketing in ensuring that farmers have easy access to profitable markets.

In the case of Chipulikano Farmers Club, support in capacity building incomes from the African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (AICC).
AICC is implementing a number of programs including the Sustainable Agriculture Lead Farmer Program. As a member of Chipulikano, Chrissy Chipeta has gained a lot of skills and knowledge which her son Enoch is also benefiting from.

The young man commends AICC for encouraging smallholder farmers to share modern practices of agriculture.
Enoch has several future plans.

Firstly, he wants to be a lead farmer by mobilising fellow youths into a farmers club.
Secondly is that he plans to buy oxen and a plough that would be used in their farming.

“I want to increase land for production.  It is expensive for us to do it alone manually or always hiring which cost K7000 per acre,” he says.
With the skills and knowledge gained through the Sustainable Agriculture Lead Farmer Program, Enoch is hopeful he will fulfill his plans.


© 2016 Charlie Maere and Dennis Lupenga Designs


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