Namalowe CPC members pose in the maize field with sample tomatoes from their garden
In most cases, it has been noted that most individuals and associations that do better are farmers; this is both small- and large-scale farming. This idea of farming did not escape the minds of Namalowe Community Philanthropy Committee (CPC), under Namalowe CDSS from Mulanje, which was established and trained by Creative Centre for Community Mobilization (CRECCOM) under Strengthening Higher Education Access in Malawi Activity (SHEAMA) project. The activity gets its support from United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through Arizona State University. After its establishment, the CPC has been working tirelessly to sensitize communities on higher education and mobilizing resources to support needy student’s education.
Namalowe CPC ventured into agricultural activities after noticing a gap that came from the 30 students that applied for short courses from which 21 were selected and only 2 students were offered scholarships under SHEAMA. This, for them, meant that almost 19 students were left for them to support which happened as a surprise to them for they thought every student would equally be given the scholarship since they are from poor families. After discussing as a group, they agreed that it was their mandate to be sourcing for the tuition fees for every student whether on Open Distance and Electronic Learning (ODeL) programs or generic full course programs.
Through this, they decided to start agricultural activities whereby they thought of renting a garden to start growing tomatoes. In the first place, they grew tomatoes together with maize on the same field, 1 acre, thinking they would maximize their products. However, this did not go well as the tomatoes were being chocked by the maize straws. Through this experience, they did not abandon this garden, but they decided to rent another one. This time around (the time of developing this story), they have rented a 2.5 acres garden along Thuchila River at K20, 000 where they have grown their 2706 seedlings of tomatoes. All the expenses needed in these activities are contributions amongst all the members.
Leo Bwanaisa, the Chairperson of the committee says, “We tried our first growing of tomatoes but we did not follow the right channels because we mixed our tomatoes with maize. So the tomatoes did not do well that is why we decided of renting another garden special for the tomatoes.”
They take shifts within their committee guarding or working in the garden so that every member takes ownership of the initiative. “We are expecting to get MK1, 700, 000 from the tomato-sales and this will help us start assisting our university-selected students,” says Ms. Tissie Manyenje who is the Treasurer for the committee. They are also planning value addition in the tomato source production mostly to maximize their benefits. They are planning of starting by sponsoring 5 university students in the next university selection.