Malawi: Rice farming pulls widow out of poverty (by Norman Fulatira, for Farm Radio Weekly, in Malawi)
Mrs. Witness Ngwira has worked hard to pull herself out of poverty in the male-controlled farming system of Malawi. She started growing rice soon after the death of her husband ten years ago. As a woman, she faced numerous challenges, including lack of land and a shortage of farm inputs.
Mrs. Ngwira lost all the family land when her husband died. She explains how she began to improve her life: “Through advice from extension workers … I joined Hara Rice Scheme and got a plot. That was the beginning of the change in my life.”
Mrs. Ngwira pays a small membership fee to the Scheme. In return, she is given land which she uses to grow rice.
Mrs. Ngwira harvests about 120 bags of rice each year from both rain fed and irrigated rice farming. She processes some rice, but sells most of it unmilled to traders. She says: “During a better rice selling season, I earn about 340 US dollars per year, which assists me greatly for my family survival.”
As a widow living in rural Malawi, Mrs. Ngwira has shown considerable commitment to and progress in rice farming. In recognition of this, she recently received a certificate from the Farmers Union of Malawi as a model farmer.
Mr. Felix Jumbe is the President of the Farmers Union of Malawi. He commends Mrs. Ngwira for her achievement and asks more women to emulate her example in order to eradicate poverty.
Mrs. Ngwira has benefitted from her membership in the Hara Rice Scheme. The Scheme negotiates a better selling price for goods sold in bulk. As a result, Mrs. Ngwira receives more for her rice. She also benefits because, through the Scheme, she has quick and easy access to markets and extension services.
Mrs. Ngwira says it was not easy for her when her husband died. But she is happy that the proceeds from rice farming have helped her build a house roofed with iron sheets, and allowed her to pay secondary school fees for her two children.