Had you asked mother of three Selina Mboneche one year ago if she would ever be able to sell soya and groundnuts collectively and at the same time improve her family’s situation, the answer would have been a clear no. Selina and her husband,from Chibwangando village in Malawi , would always use the little money they earned from selling their crops to vendors immediately after the harvest in April and then struggle to feed the family during the hungry season from December to March.
Today, that negative cycle has been broken. In May 2013, Selina joined Chitete village savings and loan association (VSLA) and the Milole producer group initiated by CARE Malawi under the Pathways program. Since then she has saved MK31,000 (~46 USD) and taken a MK13,500 loan (~20 USD), which she was then able to repay. She used this money to hire labor for the production of groundnuts and soya and to buy fertilizer for the family’s maize crop. With these inputs, the family had a bumper harvest last year!
By selling collectively, Selina earned MK123,000 (~182 USD) from soya and groundnut sales last year. She and her husband used this money in several ways, repaying a VSLA loan, purchasing household items, buying a pig, and venturing MK16,000 (~24 USD) on tomato selling. The pig that Selina purchased was sold for a MK50,000 (~74 USD) profit.
With access to different sources of income, Mrs. Mboneche’s family has been able to cope well with their current situation and the children have been able to continue going to school. “Group selling and VSLA has given me the idea to produce more and save money and to share ideas with others. I will continue to participate in Farmer Field Business School and savings to secure the children’s schooling and encourage others to do the same. Do not depend on handouts!” Advises Selina.
Selina’s experience is echoed by Eveline Phiri from the same village, a woman with seven children. Eveline joined Milole producer group in 2013 and in August 2015 she and her husband bought iron sheets to improve their home after selling soya and groundnuts collectively and earning MK169,500 (~251 USD). They were able to remove the grass thatch on their home and add iron sheets instead and have also used some of this money to purchase agricultural inputs like fertilizer. “Before it was difficult to sell collectively because there were no institutions to train us in collective marketing and link us with good buyers. With the FFBS we have the added incentive of selling at a better price and also the opportunity to learn other things, like nutrition and gender.”
Contributed by: Daniel Soka