Meet the people behind Action Africa, the initiative that enables 250.000 farmers, together with Yara, feed one million people for one year in East Africa.
“My greatest aspiration is to become the biggest rice farmer.” Jonathan Hadson Mjema’s ambitions are high. He believes that everything will work out in the end, and that things will always get better. Jonathan is served well by his optimism, because he has a lot on his hands. Besides taking care of his farm, he is active in the local community, where he has been able to mobilize several groups to help each other with borrowing from one another in a co-operative. “I’m a chairman in a school. I am a health insurance agent, and a health care worker in the village. I have various responsibilities at church. So, I would say that my community is getting the best of me.”
Jonathan lives with his family in the Madukani area in Ngasini village. “My family is comprised of 7 individuals, including my mother, who I’ve taken care of since my father passed away. I have my eldest daughter who has a child I’m taking care of. All of them depend on me for everything.” While it is a great responsibility to provide for a big family, Jonathan is fortunate to have a lot of support from them on the farm.
Jonathan has been farming rice on 3 acres for 7 years. He is a member of Yara’s Farm to Market Alliance, which has provided support for farmers like Jonathan in accessing markets for their crops. His is a perfect example of how the multi-faceted support offered via a collaborative, system-wide approach can enable farmers to establish longer-term security.
“Through this Yara training, I anticipate learning a lot about the appropriate use of the fertilizer, as well as the best time to use it. I hope the community will benefit from this training, especially when you consider that there have been many challenges when it comes to fertilizer usage. From this training I hope that there will be a greater understanding.”
“I believe that through God all things are possible.”
Although he is a more experienced farmer, he Jonathan still faces difficulties making the most of his crops each year, and especially during this time of crisis. “I’m challenged with where to sell my produce, and with diseases that affects the rice crop. Those are the challenges I face every season. And it has been a particularly hard time because of the Covid-19 pandemic that really affected us. After the harvest was done, selling the produce was hard, and the prices were too low, and heavy losses have been taken. Because of that my farming has suffered to a large extent.”
Jonathan is very religious and in difficult times, he relies on his faith in God. ”What gives me the strength to keep working is, firstly, God, because He is the one who gives me strength. Because I’m a believer in God there is nothing that can make me lose sleep, I believe that through God all things are possible.”
With the help from the Action Africa donation and training, as well as his faith, he has a clear vision of his future. “Next year I have big plans, and if God gives me the ability there are many things I would want to do. I plan on building a house; I have bought a plot of land. I want to build a bigger house because where I am currently is too small. I plan to advance my children in their education, as well as start a business. I plan on rearing chickens. That’s what I look forward to doing.”