Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Field Notes from Malawi

Written by Bupe Mulaga Mwakasungula, Malawi Project Manager

LovenessBlogLet me introduce you to a true superhero. Loveness is a farmer and entrepreneur from a small town in Kasungu District in Malawi. She’s the main breadwinner for her family — her husband passed away last year – and she runs several businesses including a small grocery store and a farm where she grows peanuts and sugarcane.

Loveness has 10 children depending on her, so we were blown away when she told us she’s managed to educate them all. Some of her kids are working now, while others are finishing secondary school. She owns a few cows, an iron sheet house – a luxury – and as of a few weeks ago, she’s also the proud owner of a CTI peanut stripper.

Loveness is the first farmer to purchase a peanut stripper on her own, rather than as part of a women’s group. CTI’s peanut stripper helps farmers rapidly remove peanut pods from the stem, and is part of a suite of tools that also includes equipment for harvesting and shelling peanuts. The tools help farmers produce more peanuts with far less effort, and they improve the quality and market value of their crop.

“My plan is to have all three of CTI’s peanut tools so I can use them on my field and earn money lending them out to other farmers.”

Loveness is a role model in her community, and when she starts using new technologies, others follow. Loveness is organizing a meeting with her neighbors this month so she can show them how to use the stripper.

“Owning these tools, for me, is a sign of wealth,” she told us. “Please bring me a sheller, I will buy it too.”

We are collaborating with farmer organizations throughout Malawi to introduce our peanut tools to farmer leaders and women’s organizations. We provide tools, training and ongoing support, while the farmer groups cover the material costs of the peanut equipment through loans or savings.

As we monitor their progress over the next year, we’re learning about the most effective models for farmers to purchase the equipment and earn a return on their investment – valuable information which will help us scale the tools in Malawi and throughout the region. Thank you to our generous donors, as well as the McKnight Foundation and the CHS Foundation, for supporting this work.

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What would you do if you were on your own, with six kids to care for, and fighting for your life?

If you’re like Joyce, you get to work.

A few years ago, Joyce was in bad shape. Like 10% of Malawians, Joyce had HIV. Her weight had dropped to 85 pounds and no one expected her to live much longer. But she was a fighter. Joyce and others with HIV in her community began growing peanuts. They got their hands on a CTI grinder and started making peanut butter. Before long, everything changed.

Eating peanut butter helped Joyce and her friends gain weight. With better nutrition, their HIV medication started to kick in. Now Joyce is strong, healthy, and is selling peanut butter to help put her kids through school.

“Since this grinder was introduced to me, I have seen a big change in my health. Even my children cannot believe how much my health has changed,” said Joyce. "People can’t believe that I have HIV.” ” 

This project was made possible by the suport of Earthen Vessels, click here to learn more. 

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nutritionMalawi is one of the most malnourished countries in the world. In this small southeast African country, about the size of Ohio, malnutrition typically starts during childhood as a result of micronutrient deficiencies, a diet comprised of mostly cereals, and food shortages. Chronic malnutrition causes stunting in children, and those who survive it often deal with lifelong health and cognitive development challenges. The lasting effects of undernutrition impacts 60% of Malawi’s adults and cost the economy millions of dollars each year.

But that’s only a part of Malawi’s story. In recent years, Malawi has made major strides in reducing child mortality (down 80% since 1990) and the prevalence of HIV. Malawi is nicknamed “the warm heart of Africa” and it’s full of incredibly resilient communities working together to improve life for everyone. And it’s paying off.

At CTI, we’re equipping communities with tools that will help them produce more peanuts—one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. And we’re partnering with farmer co-ops and researchers in Malawi so families have nutritious, high-yielding seed varieties. Together, and with the support of our donors, we are helping communities boost their yields and diversify their diets so families are healthier and kids can look forward to brighter futures.

5 Things You Should Know about Child Nutrition in Malawi 

1) 23% percent of all child mortality cases in Malawi are associated with undernutrition

2) Today, 1.4 million or almost half of the children in Malawi are stunted

3) 66% of the adult population engaged in manual activities were stunted as children, representing an annual loss of US$ 67 million

4) Of all school year repetitions, 18 percent are associated with stunting

5) The total annual costs associated with child undernutrition are estimated at US$ 597 million, equivalent to 10.3% of GDP

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