Communities hail ‘Victory Garden’ project

Written by  Eunice Ndhlovu

Communities of Traditional authorities Maliri, Tsabango and Chiseka in Lilongwe have embraced victory gardens where they produce various vegetables throughout the year at no cost. The technology that is championed by Face to Face project is aiming at reducing over-dependence of rain-fed and Dambo cropping.

One of the beneficieries of Victory Gardens Initiative One of the beneficieries of Victory Gardens Initiative

Chief Makulenje from T/A Tsabango in Lilongwe said the project has taught them to maximize a small land around the house and produce enough for balanced diet.

“We are restoring our natural resources because we don't use fertilizer for the vegetables and legumes we plant around the house. We only use waste water used at household,” said Chief Makulenje.

He added that at first they thought to achieve a balanced diet needs more money but with the project they have realised that a small garden can produce not only vegetables but also legumes and fruits.

Makulenje said as a local facilitator he has managed to convince all his subjects around him to have Victory Gardens.

“When we come from a funeral even at night we just use a small torch to harvest vegetables close to the house and cook food. We are now food secure and our bodies are healthier than before,” boasted the chief.

Another farmer Edison Kumbani from T/A Maliri said to him the  Victory Gardens have taught him that indigenous food crops can grow within the home without any problems.

“Face to face has empowered us to control pest using natural leaves and we are done with the risky chemicals that we were using for our Dambo cropping. Just because the gardens are close to our homes, even the elderly are able to have them,” said Kumbani.

The program manager for Face to Face Project Mike Chikakuda said the work has targeted 50 000 home gardens that can feed 150 000 people in Malawi by 2019.

Chikakuda said for quite a long time poor people have relied on government fertilizer coupons to produce food which is dependent mainly on rains, but the Victory Gardens have come to help people realise food security without using money.

“An average of $3 is used per household to teach them how to have this Victory Garden, after that they don't need any money because they use natural leaves and manure to cultivate their food. We are hopeful that this will be emulated and replicated to a wider scale so that the communities come out of hunger and poverty,” said Chikakuda.

The Victory Garden concept is borrowed from what people in the West used to do during the World War where they could not manage to go to their farm lands to grow crops. Chikakuda said with the techniques used in the project, communities will be able to utilize organic and perma-culture  methods to restore soil fertility, maximize water use and fight pest and diseases naturally.

Face to Face launched the Victory Garden campaign in 2016 and in only 9 months it has managed to create over 4000 gardens in Lilongwe. The project is also in Nkhata Bay and Phalombe districts.

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