Machona Kasambala NAIS
‘Making ends meet is a struggle for me and my 10 member household and the demise of my husband has exacerbated the situation’ laments 63 years old Ireen Dawa Phiri , a widow of Masansa area in Mkushi district.
Ireen’s sentiments are not a lone voice, she is echoed by many other women and youths who have to bear the brunt to eke out a livelihood for their households in Masansa, a rural outpost in Mkushi district, central province, that is however endowed with abundant land, water and mineral resources.
The plight of the womenfolk especially in rural areas has not gone unheard, Ireen and others realized that for them to benefit from any government support programme, they needed to form and join cooperatives or clubs.
Ireen is a member of Kukosa women’s club and together with her 25 fellow members have been accessing farming inputs from the Ministries of Agriculture and Community Development.
‘I grow maize and soyabean but still struggle to send my children to school and have three square meals. We survive on nshima and sweetpotato leaves’ Ireen laments.
The story of poverty for Ireen and over 40 women’s club in Masansa has however come to change. Today Ireen is a beneficiary of 20 hens and 2 cockerels under the stocking and restocking programme of the Enhanced Smallholder Livestock Investment Programme (E-SLIP).
‘I am very grateful to the government for the chickens, when they multiply I will sell some to Kasumbalesa and earn more income. This will also enable me to afford to provide for my children educational needs’. Ireen quips
She adds that the chickens will also provide nutritional security as her household will have a readily available source of protein as they will be consuming chicken and eggs.
Ireen says the livestock stocking and restocking has come at the right time because she is no longer eligible to receive inputs under the Farmer Iinput Support Programme (FISP) in the 2020/2021 farming season.
‘I wondered where I would get money to access inputs after graduating from FISP but by the grace of God, the government has provided me a production asset to enable me to generate income to meet my needs’ Ireen speaks cheerfully.
Her plan is to raise the current stock of 22 birds she has been given to about 500 in the next 2 years.
‘When you come next time, there will be electricity connected to my house and I will be watching Television in my house while savoring decent meals’, See adds.
Republican Vice President Inonge Mutukwa Wina was recently in Masansa to officially handover 200 cattle, 300 goats, 40 pigs and 1,500 village chickens to over 40 women’s clubs in the area.
Ms. Wina says in line with the Seventh National Development Plan (7th NDP), government is fully determined to ensure that smallholder livestock investment becomes Zambia’s main driver of the economic diversification programme.
‘Empowering women and youth in rural with livestock packages will create an enabling environment for the smallholder livestock sector to maximize production and productivity thereby creating employment, reducing malnutrition, improving household incomes and contributing to poverty reduction in rural areas’ Wina said.
She says government has already taken steps to boost livestock production and productivity by distributing forage seed to smallholder farmers and taught them how to grow the seed.
The livestock handed over in Masansa is expected to benefit more than 355 households in the initial stage and will further reach out to an additional of more than 7, 000 households before the close of E-SLIP.
And E-SLIP Livestock Production and Productivity Coordinator Johns Nyirongo says studies worldwide have proved that rural poverty can be eradicated through livestock interventions.
Dr. Nyirongo says E-SLIP has targeted 28 000 direct beneficiaries countrywide and the similar number is expected to replicate every year through the pass on the gift concept.
He says the stocking and restocking programme is countrywide and the project has begun with poor rural district and will scale up to all districts.
E-SLIP is a $46.3 million programme designed to sustainably improve the production and productivity of smallholder producers’ livestock systems and will run up to 2022.
The two major components of E-SLIP are sustainable animal disease control and sustainable livestock production. The livestock stocking and restocking programme under the sustainable livestock production component is worth $12 million.
Meanwhile Chief Shaibila of the Lala-Swaka people in Mkushi has warned that anyone found selling the animals meant for restocking will face the full wrath of the law.
Chief SHAIBILA has since given all beneficiaries a 10 day ultimatum to register all the animals in a data book at the palace.
He says it is the duty of traditional leaders to monitor all developmental programmes that government and other partners are bringing to their chiefdoms.
Chief SHAIBILA thanked the President Edgar Lungu for taking development to all parts of the country.