Kusamala Monthly Newsletter
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March marks the end of our Climate Smart Agriculture project. Over the last 3 years, we have worked with 1,500 smallholder farmers, teaching agroecology and permaculture practices to village clubs across Dowa district. In celebration of the hard work of our farmers, we held film screenings of the participatory videos they created as part of the project. The village screenings were pedal-powered, with nobody missing out on an opportunity to "fuel" the films: below is a photo of CSA Project Manager, Chisomo Kamchacha, powering a film in Dowa last week. 

CSA Film Screenings

As our Climate Smart Agriculture project wraps up, we celebrated the accomplishments of the farmers we have been working with for almost 3 years. Last week we hosted film screenings of the participatory videos created by project farmers in 8 of the villages in Dowa distirct where we have been working for the duration of the CSA project. The pedal-powered screenings drew large crowds with community members crowded into churches and schools to watch the videos they had created. At the conclusion of the films, farmers were asked which films they liked the best and why, as well as what climate smart farming practices highlighted in the films they are now practicing. Leaders from each farmer club in attendance were given USB thumb drives with copies of all of the films including Kusamala’s training manual videos. Watch one of the subtitled farmer videos here.

Hunger Crisis in Malawi

March and April are commonly referred to as the hunger season in Malawi, as farmers have depleted their maize stores from last year’s harvest and have yet to harvest this year’s crop. Due to extreme weather events during the rainy season last year, namely a devastating mix of droughts and floods, the 2015 maize harvest was 27% below average. The result is an estimated 2.8 million Malawians facing hunger this year. As the Malawian government struggles to address this crisis, the El Niño event of this year will only exacerbate the issue as it has brought sporadic rainfall across the country with farmers struggling yet again to produce. As you drive across Malawi today, fields of maize are stunted and withering and harvests for this year’s crop look bleak. Now more than ever the work Kusamala does with smallholder farmers is crucial. Through our projects, consultancies and trainings we are teaching farmers how to build soil health and retain soil moisture as well as to diversify crops- with special emphasis on planting drought tolerant species. 

Savory Visit

The first week of March brought Tre’ Cates, the COO of the Savory Institute, to Kusamala to see the work we are doing on-the-ground and get a better understanding of how holistic livestock management can be implemented in the Malawian context. Through visits with various livestock related businesses such as Kapani Meats and Nyama World, as well as development organizations such as the Hunger Project, it was noticed that each endeavor was missing an ecological restoration aspect. The demand for trainings that can improve both business bottom lines and social and ecological capital is great. There is now, more than ever, a critical need for thinking that addresses complexity in our everyday lives. It is evident for the smallholder farmer in Malawi that climate change can take their entire livelihood in one season, or market prices can fail in one year. These results are devastating when you are living on the brink. Farmers here know the practices they are employing are not resilient, or sustainable, but they lack options. Holistic management can address this over the long-term and the demand is there and only rising.

New Kusamala Website

Our new website is live! Launched at the end of February, we encourage you to visit www.kusamala.org to explore the new site. The new design features beautiful photos, updated information and a donation page.
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