Inclusivity for food security
Malawi was one of the countries targeted by Yara’s Action Africa initiative. Partnering with the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), Action Africa ensured the distribution of fertilizer to 100,000 smallholder farmers.
Through AFAP, Action Africa established partnerships with the local World Food Programme office, the Ministry of Agriculture, UNHCR, and others to target the most vulnerable farmers in the country. Refugees, disabled persons, and prisoners were among the groups included in the program. 50,000 of these vulnerable farmers also received two kilograms of high-quality seed maize from Bayer, under their Better Farms, Better Lives program, also led by AFAP.
In the summer of 2021, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture in Malawi hosted an agricultural event. As part of this event, farmers that had greatly improved their yields were celebrated and awarded. The farmer with the greatest yield increase was Agnes Kaphala. She is part of Kalumbu Tikondane People with Disabilities, a group of 150 physically disabled rural farmers based in Kalumbu village, east of Lilongwe, that received premium fertilizers and crop advice from Yara, in addition to seed from Bayer.
Agnes was born physically disabled in a family of seven children. Although she was very interested in school from a young age, her parents had to take her out of primary school because of the distances she had to travel on crutches to and from school. However, her disability did not prevent her from taking part in her family’s small-scale farming. Agnes, now married with three school children, farms a small plot to ensure food for her family, and also operates a tailoring business on the veranda of her house, making her the household’s primary breadwinner.
“Thanks to Yara, the persistent hunger in my household is now a thing of the past. For the first time, I have harvested 16 bags of maize from the 0.5 acres of land that I have been harvesting not more than 3 bags from in the past years.”
She further elaborated that for the first time, her household was able to remain food secure throughout the whole year and also managed to sell some of her maize to generate income for her household. She was awarded a crop protection sprayer for her achievement.
“For me, stories like these feel almost like adrenalin shots. What we do, matters. And when we work together with others, we can change lives,” Yara CEO Svein Tore Holsether said in an email to all employees in July. “Agnes is truly inspiring. Stories like these would not be possible without collaboration, and Action Africa in Malawi really is a shining example of how collaboration should work. Both public and private – small and big organizations – all helped this become a reality.
These partnerships aren’t built over night, and by showing up and delivering on commitments, we build trust and confidence, and I am certain that this will help us achieve great things in the future,” says Øystein Botillen, project lead for Action Africa.
“Yara’s Action Africa program will go down as one of the most thoughtful initiatives that took place in Africa at the height of the pandemic, when we were uncertain of what the future would bring. Agnes’ five-fold harvest increase is a good testament to the achievement potential of strong collaborations and partnerships. Action Africa Malawi brought immense light and hope,” says Sheila Keino, AFAP Malawi’s Country Director.
In 2021 Agnes was also among the 600 vulnerable women in Malawi to receive a bag of 50Kg NPK fertilizer as part of Yara’s annual Christmas gift initiative. Agnes expects to harvest 20 bags of maize this season because of the continued support, further improving her household’s food security and economic stability.
What is Action Africa?
Amid COVID-19, a time of crisis becomes a catalyst for transformation in East Africa. The UN projects 265 million people face severe food insecurity due to COVID-19; no event since World War II’s end has had as profound a global impact. Through Action Africa, 250,000 farmers can now provide food for one million people in East Africa for one year, while millions more are connecting to ongoing advice through Yara’s groundbreaking new digital platform.