When AWP formed an agriculture club in the Village of Mziza to introduce sustainable irrigation farming, few women joined, but among the few was Khumbidze Kandodo.
Khumbidze was born in 1948 in Mziza. She never had a chance to go to school in the colonial days. She used to wake up every day to help her parents do household chores and farming in the upland. She says, “back then, people did not cultivate in the dambo areas, for they had plenty food to feed themselves throughout the year.” Ways of farming changed when the population started increasing, and there was continuous environmental and natural resource degradation affecting farm yields each and every year. As a result, people started cultivating in dambo areas. However, throughout the years that she has been in the dambo farming, she has had problems on how to improve soil nutrients and water holding capacity and, how to increase yield each growing season.
She said that with the coming of AWP in Malawi there has been a change in terms of farming systems in the village but especially to her life. “When I was joining the club in March, 2011, I thought, I’ll not be able to grasp the concept by looking at my literacy level,” she narrates in Chichewa. “But thanks to AWP facilitators for making the technologies understandable for me. Look at me! I am an old woman but I have done it and am determined to do better than this next year.”
To AWP staff in Malawi, Khumbidze has made a difference. Though she walks a long distance from her house to her garden, she has proved to the world that age is not a limit in development. She promises to do extraordinarily in her garden and meet some of her life needs she has never had in her life. She wants to errect a brick-fired house with iron sheets through farming with AWP.
“I have never slept in good house with iron sheets. I believe, this will be my dream come true. I will be following every theory that AWP is requiring me to implement,” she foretells. I had time to go through her small garden and managed to take a picture of what she has done with her aging potential energy. The few months that she has been with AWP, the 63 year old widow, has managed to grow cauliflower, tomato, onions and green peas.
As for Khumbidze, she does not care where to sit in the garden. She says, “soil is the foundation of life: I came from soil; soil provides me with food, water, firewood and materials for building my shelter. With AWP, I will continuously have food and have some money after selling some crops to purchase other life needs like clothes.”
–by Chawezi Simwela