Estele Dickson: a model in orange maize production and consumption
At 17 years old and in form 4, Estele Dickson from Kaphula Village, Chipwapwata VDC in Ntchisi has become a model in the production and consumption of orange maize.
MALAWI: At 17 years old and in form 4, Estele Dickson from Kaphula Village, Chipwapwata VDC in Ntchisi has become a model in the production and consumption of orange maize.
Dickson’s journey to earn her model status started in 2019 when she was recruited into the Adolescent Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture (ANSA) Pilot Project, implemented by Farmers Union of Malawi’s (FUM) with funding from the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) through the World Bank. The project is aimed at increasing the production and consumption of nutritious foods and improving access to livelihood opportunities among selected female and male youths aged 10-19 in Ntchisi and Mwanza.
The project introduced orange maize because of Vitamin A deficiencies that are common in many communities. Apart from curbing Vitamin A deficiency, orange maize is drought resistant, produces high yield and it is tasty.
“I received the orange maize which I planted on a less than an acre land and I managed to harvest 14 bags of 50kgs each,” Dickson said.
Dickson said since she started growing the orange maize, her family has been eating nsima prepared from orange maize flour.
“The nsima tastes so nice and the flour lasts longer than white maize (ufa wa mtupa tupa). The maize we harvest is enough to last for a whole year with a surplus which I sell to support my family by buying bathing and washing soap, body cream, and cooking oil,” she said.
Dickson is among 6000 adolescents (4500 girls and 1500 boys) that are benefiting from pieces of training that are being provided to equip these youths with the knowledge and skills they need.
The youths are encouraged to practice Integrated Homestead farming and sustainable agriculture by promoting the use of cheaper and locally available technologies.
With support from her parents, Dickson can balance school and agriculture activities, and said her father and mother help look after her crops when she is at school.
“My parents make sure that I am not distracted from school, and they are happy with the production interventions I am implementing as they no longer stress when we as a family have a need that demands money. For example, if I want books and other school materials, we just sell maize,” she said.
FUM District Coordinator, Sangayemwe Kausiwa said they are very happy with how the communities have embraced the growing and consumption of orange maize in a short time.
“It is encouraging because of the support these youths are getting from their parents. We are also happy to see how these youths are influencing their parents, guardians, and community members to adopt backyard gardening,” Kausiwa said.
Ntchisi Food Nutrition Officer Pauline Chifika observed that the involvement of the youths in production and preparation improves family and community well-being.
“A healthy adolescent has enough energy to do different farming activities that can bring food to the table. The introduction of orange maize has improved the health status of both children and adults,” Chifika said.