Upon realising that the familiar MASAF 4 vehicle which had a stopover at Karonga Boma was heading to his village, he asked for a lift back home.
He was granted. But to the surprise of everybody in the vehicle, when it was time to leave, he asked for more time to complete his shopping.
As we patiently waited for him, he was busy moving from one shop to another, buying learning materials.
Later he returned with several notebooks, pens and other learning materials, prompting us to ask who he had bought for.
“They are for my children. I have 13 children from my three wives,” said Buta Mweso, smiling.
At only 32, we thought he was joking that he had three wives and 13 children. We probed more.
“Yes, I have 13 children.
“And I am not afraid to feed them,” he said, smiling again.
Mweso, from Simon Village in Traditional Authority Kyungu in Karonga District, is an enterprising farmer who works hard to take care of his big family.
The three wives and 13 children are not the only people he takes care of; he also looks after two children of his late sister.
There are other polygamous men in Mweso’s locality and beyond with several children, but a few realise their situation to work hard and fend for their children like Mweso does.
Most heads of such families have left the responsibility of caring for children to their wives.
When communities in his area started Kayelekera Irrigation Scheme in 2005 with only 25 farmers on a meagre 1.5 hectare land, Mweso quickly joined and became a member.
The scheme became robust in 2016 when MASAF 4 came in to assist the group with pipes and cement which they used to construct a 300-metre-long water canal that supplies water into the 18-hectare irrigation field.
Upon seeing the water canal would pass by his compound, Mweso quickly thought of constructing a fish pond to take advantage of the passing water. He is now harvesting the fish, for sale and consumption.
He then started constructing a bigger fish pond, 30 m by 40 m in size but work has stalled because of lack of funds to buy cement so that he could complete it.
Mweso offered his three hectares of land to the irrigation scheme to contribute to its growth so more farmers could join and benefit from the facility.
It is such courtesy plus his commitment and dedication to farming that have earned him the title of lead farmer within the scheme.
“I wish my bigger fish pond was completed so I can assist my 18-member strong family better,” he said.
But since work on it has stalled, he has to make do with the smaller fish pond, 10 m by 10 m in size from which he has already started harvesting fish.
“I wish well-wishers assisted me with cement; I would complete the larger fish pond because I have skills of doing it,” he said.
Mweso has a number of plots in the scheme where he grows rice, maize, tomatoes and leaf vegetables.
“We now have plans to expand the irrigation scheme to 25 hectares so that more farmers join,” says Mweso whose father died when he was only six and got married when he was 18.
As if to copy from Mweso’s idea, the expanded scheme would also include a dam where the group intends to start fish farming.
Mweso’s wives have not left the burden of caring for children to their husband. All of them are members of the irrigation scheme and have plots where they grow different crops for consumption and sale.
His most senior wife, 29-year-old Vera Mtambo who has five children, said she grows rice, maize tomatoes and various leaf vegetables. Her co-wives do the same, just to ensure they look after the children well.
Meanwhile, Mpata Extension Planning Area Agriculture Extension Development Officer Peace Kapira says he often monitors the farming activities at the scheme and crop fields belonging to individual farmers.
He says his office has endorsed the farmers’ idea to expand the irrigation scheme.
“I monitor their activities at least three times a week to see how irrigation activities progress. They now want to expand the scheme to 25 hectares from the current 18-hectare land,” says Kapira.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :