“We were bracing ourselves for another year of hunger” says Malita Mwalija. “We missed out on the government Farm Input Subsidy Program.”
“We were now planning to go and work as laborers in farms nearby, just to earn money that can help us buy food”.
Phalombe is one district in Malawi that had been hit by hunger last year due to the dry spells the country faced.
A lot of peasant farmers sold off their assets to buy food that could last them the whole of 2012.
These peasant had banked hopes that when the planting season comes, they may benefit from the Government Farm Input Subsidy Program.
However, the numbers of beneficiaries was just too high and many peasant farmers were left out of the program.
These farmers were left to fend for themselves. With no money or even assets to sell, the farmers resorted to finding jobs in big farms where they were paid meager salaries.
“When I went to ask for a job at the farm, they said they would pay me K500 per weak, (about $1.30)”
Malita who is a widow with 4 children had no choice.
But thankfully, help was on the way.
Out of the blues came news that a Blantyre based relief organization, Gift of the Givers Foundation, would be giving out farming inputs to all very vulnerable farmers who had not benefitted from the Government program.
“I didn’t believe till I was given a bag containing fertilizer and seeds. I thanked God for this was like manna from heaven.”
The Gift of the Givers intervention in November has helped many households in Phalombe who would otherwise have had no food this year.
Most of the beneficiaries of the Gift of the Givers Foundation donation were widows.
Like many widows, Malita is proud as she showed off her maize which is almost ready for harvest to the Nyasa Times crew.
T.A. Kaduya of Phalombe is also happy with the intervention.
“We are looking for organizations that are practical like Gift of the Givers. These people don’t come here with stories. They come here with practical help that can end hunger and poverty” said the seemly happy T.A.
More than 80 percent of Malawi’s population earns a living from subsistence farming.
These are poor peasants who depend on government subsidies to grow enough food to feed their families.
The Malawi Government introduced the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) in 2005 to improve national food security.
Though expensive, the Government intervention is widely seen as successful in achieving in achieving food security.
However, due to budgetary constraints and other factors, the Government has not been able to reach out to all vulnerable farmers.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :