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Shaping model farming villages

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TIMELY INTERVENTION—A fully operational community clinic

Imagine a world where one, from deep in the villages, was able to find all amenities within their locality.

Well, this sounds very utopian but the truth is it is achievable.

The basic necessities of life such as water, schools and hospitals are far much apart and one covers long distances to access them.

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Just last month, Agriculture Minister Lobin Lowe called for increased collaboration between the government and industry players.

One of the country’s tobacco buying companies, JTI Leaf Malawi, through its sustainability agenda, is championing introduction of villages where things that matter more in life can be accessed within precincts of the village.

Deep in the rural areas of Mchinji and Lilongwe districts, the company has embarked on a pilot project called Model Village.

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They have village clinics, potable water and school on the social front, multiple farm income revenue projects like contract tobacco farming, beekeeping, and poultry and legumes production supported by a bailing centre infrastructure.

JTI Leaf Malawi Corporate Affairs and Communications Director Limbani Kakhome said a model village initiative is best practice they learned from institutions the firm has worked with including the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Winrock International.

Kakhome added that a model village is an area-based approach in dealing with socio-economic change.

“Model villages help us concentrate on social development and infrastructure to address social problems like child labour in an integrated manner.

“In a model village, the centre of dealing with an identified issue is integrating economic, environmental and social interventions,” he explained.

Through this project, the company has undertaken a number of initiatives aimed at improving the social and economic livelihoods of farmers and communities surrounding their homesteads.

The initiatives include construction of a baling centre, construction of additional teaching and learning blocks at Chimwa Full Primary School, introduction and promotion of poultry farming to boost nutrition for the farmers.

The company has also built a village clinic and installed solar-powered water tank at the facility. The village health facility is likely going to decongest Mikundi Health Centre, situated approximately 12 kilometres from the area.

Additionally, the company distributed solar systems to farmers for their home use, which has also improved the performance of their children in school.

At Chimwa Full Primary School, JTI Leaf Malawi has already delivered 120 desks.

Kakhome said JTI Leaf Malawi believes that, by using a bottom-up-approach, the company will complement national efforts of accelerating inclusive wealth creation.

“We have so far established three model villages in Lilongwe and Mchinji and the aim is to reach out to all our agronomy zones nationwide in the next five years,” Kakhome said.

Kalinde Zone Vice Chairperson Dymon Nixon Banda said not only do farmers and their workers lack basic utilities, they also live in isolated areas far from important social services institutions.

Banda said this reduces their lifespan and that of their children.

“We believe that, through the model village, our social and economic livelihoods will improve significantly. In turn, this will motivate us to produce high quality leaf,” he said.

Emmanuel Chilaka, a standard eight teacher at Chimwa Full Primary School, described the project as timely, stressing that congestion has become a matter of concern at the school.

Accordding to Chilaka, at least 160 learners are crowded in one classroom due to inadequacy of classrooms.

Such a model village, which has all what people need, might change people’s lives and be a catalyst for rural urbanisation.

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