By Duncan Mlanjira
People of Nsanje East Bank in Traditional Authority (T/A) Mlolo, are helping keep very much alive the Muona Community Rice Scheme agricultural project, which is the legacy that late politician and former Member of Parliament for Nsanje North, Hon. Gwanda Chakuamba left behind.
According to T/A Mlolo, Ellena Rachael Chakuamba Chimbamba, who is grandniece to late Chakumba, said he initiated this community project when he was then Minister of Agriculture way back in 1964 after he liaised with T/A Mlolo 1 to move his Chiefs and their subjects to the upper land and use the land for that purpose.
Chakuamba died on 24 October, 2016 and was laid to rest at his magnificent mansion that has now been turned into a tourist hospitality home — the Chinyanje Lodge.
“The Government, through the Chinese people, were the ones helping the community how to manage it,” said T/A Mlolo when she inspected the scheme this week. “The community manages the scheme through Water Users Association (WUA) Committee and its Board of Trustees with the help of Ministry of Agriculture’s experts (alangizi a ulimi).
“Muona Scheme has 446 hectares and if well managed can produce about 3,000 metric tonnes of rice.”
However, T/A Mlolo said they do not yet have a ready and secured market for their produce, which is worrying farmers as they will be harvesting in two weeks time.
“We are hoping that the government will make an initiative for our produce to be bought through cooperatives. This initiative will help as the rice will be bought at a higher price.
“Muona Rice Scheme, among other schemes in Nsanje, produces high quality rice that can attract foreign markets. This scheme was given to the community to manage it and so the 446 hectares is shared amongst the community.
“The community benefits from the scheme a lot in that from the proceeds they are able to provide school fees for their children, they are able to build houses and some have managed to buy livestock.
“From the proceeds of their rice harvests, the farmers are able to buy maize when the maize fields have not done well. The scheme has 5,000 farmers of which 3,500 are men and 2,000 are women,” said T/A Mlolo.
Since she was elevated exactly three years in April 2016, she has nurtured a deep passion for community development by initiating several projects in her area.
During her tenure of office, T/A Mlolo has managed to initiate five projects which she would love to have some of them completed in the next two to three years, subject to the availability of resources through sponsorship from government and well-wishing donors.
Her first project was establishment of a Community Training School in order to keep youths in the area from indulging themselves into life threatening activities such as excessive drinking and smoking because they were idle.
After been concerned with the girls’ high school dropout rate due to early pregnancies and early marriages among other reasons, and knowing that gender-based violence and abuse mostly affects the girls more than boys, she maintained the trained and existing structures, Mother Groups and Male Champions that were used by Save the Children to engage with the girls and the boys in rehabilitating programmes.
She is also passionate to have justice to prevail by initiating and engaging with the Judiciary to have a Magistrate Court built in her area.
“The Judiciary agreed to our request and promised to include it in the 2019/2020 budget subject to my finding a land for Judiciary to lease, which we have already secured waiting for the Judiciary to do its part in the upcoming financial year.
On that same land, she intends to build a police station. Currently the law enforcers in her area are operating from a two-roomed bulding offered by Well Trinity Hospital with one room being used as a holding cell for men and the other as the administrative office.