In the meddle of savanna grasslands lies Molly Mherekumombe, aged 68 from Tasiyana village in Ndlalambi 1, Ward 19, Gokwe South, Midlands Province, Zimbabwe. Molly is a project participant under the Integrated WASH and Sustainable Livelihoods being funded by All We Can. She lives with her two children, daughter in law and four grandchildren and has been practising subsistence farming for the past 50 years, getting little surplus to sell with most of her production mainly for family consumption. Tasiyana village is no different to most rural places in Gokwe South where people live in absolute poverty of less than a dollar a day. Most farming is for cereals whilst cotton which used to bring in household income has lost its lustre. The soil has been cultivated for the past 80 years and its fertility has been reduced with the prices of fertilisers soaring as high as $62 per 50 kg bag which is beyond reach of many. Molly is a Methodist Church in Zimbabwe (MCZ) member and very often she would hear of MeDRA at church since MeDRA is the humanitarian and relief arm of the MCZ. She was pleased when MeDRA started operating in her village. MeDRA moved to Tasiyana in 2021 to promote the WASH and sustainable livelihoods.

Despite Molly’s advanced age, she volunteered to be a project participant as her intuition gave her a glimmer of hope. Molly has received training and her knowledge has increased. She is now practising farming as a business with the aim of making profits, in selling the produces she uses knowledge from Enterprise managements training where all records are kept to date and markets her produce vigorously. Molly often attends all the workshops that are facilitated by MeDRA and amongst all the workshops she has attended she pointed that the Farming as a Business, Enterprise Management and Climate Smart Agriculture, Crop Protection, seed distribution and ISAL Methodology workshops have transformed her knowledge in Agriculture and on how to save money.

Before the workshops, she would be content with practising subsistence farming just for her family’s consumption and not think of selling any extra produce. Also, before the training she had no knowledge about conservation farming which is part of Climate smart agriculture. Through climate smart agriculture training she has built fertility trenches which have boosted her yield per hectare with each cabbage weighing an average one and half kgs. The trenches have helped boost fertility in the soil something she learnt during the Climate smart agriculture training. She has been receiving support for 20 months from MeDRA in collaboration with Agritex and the support is ongoing. Molly also did not know that in her ISAL group, she could have financial records for the group and have records for herself. This then helps her track her savings at as an individual and budget accordingly. Molly narrated that with these workshops, she chose to be a doer not a hearer as she says “ndakasarudza kusagarira maoko”.

After these trainings, Molly had to set aside a plot for horticulture with 1 324 heads of cabbage, 1 140 tomatoes and 1 000 Onions and she is now realising profits from the horticulture project with an estimated income of $2 648 from the cabbage which are being sold from a cost of production of $800. Not only the monetary value has been realised but even the consumption of good nutrition and the right quantities, that is, three meals a day unlike in the past where they would have a single meal. 

The thriving garden has brought joy in the family and rejuvenated the once lost hope of escaping the jaws of poverty. The most significant moment was when Molly took $45-00 from the ISAL group and bought seedlings for her horticulture project. Molly plans to extend her garden from one to two acres and hope to get more market as week as add value to her products to produce tomato sauce and chillies.

Molly’s garden has become a success which has inspired members of Tasiyana to come and learn how she made it so that they can duplicate. Molly is grateful to MeDRA because the project has enhanced her livelihood and she is now benefitting not only her family but the community at large.

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